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.^ 



I 



MARQARKX D. WUSTOIf 
SXANFOUD UNIVKRSITT 



i 



F A L K 



OTHER BOOKS 
BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

r 

Lord Jim, Youth 
Typhoon 



FALK 

AMY FOSTER 

TO-MORROW 

THREE STORIES 

BY 
JOSEPH 
CONRAD 



ALDI 




AMER 
ICANV 






NEW YORK 

McCLURE, PHILLIPS 

AND COMPANY 

MCMIII 



.■ I 



GOPTBIOBT. im, BT 
MoOLURE. PHILLIF8 ft 00. 

PobUihed, October, IMI, B 

501172 









CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Falk . . . . 1 

Amy Foster 153 

To-morrow 215 



FALK 



A REMINISCENCE 



A REMINISCENCE 

Several of us, all more or less connected with the 
sea, were dining in a small river-hostelry not more 
than thirty miles from London, and loss than twenty 
from that shallow and dangerous puddle to which 
our coasting men give the grandiose name of " Ger- 
man Ocean." And through the wide windows we 
had a view of the Thames ; an enfilading view down ' 
the Lower Hope Reach. But the dinner was exe- , 
crable, and all the feast was for the eyes. 

That flavour of salt-water which for so many of 
UB had been the very water of life penneated our 
talk. He who hath known the bitterness of the 
Ocean shall have Its taste forever in his mouth. But 
one or two of us, pampered by the life of the land, 
complained of hunger. It was impossible to swal- 
low any of that stuff. And indeed there was a 
strange mustiness in everything. The wooden din- 
ing-room stuck out over the mud of the shore like 
[3] 



FALK 

a lacustrine dwelling ; the planks of the floor seemed 
rotten; a decrepid old waiter tottered pathetically 
to and fro before an antediluvian and worm-eaten 
sideboard ; the chipped plates might have been dis- 
interred from some kitchen midden near an inhab- 
^ ited lake ; and the chops recalled times more ancient 
still. They brought forcibly to one's mind the 
night of ages when the primeval man, evolving the 
first rudiments of cookery from his dim conscious- 
ness, scorched lumps of flesh at a flre of sticks in the 
company of other good fellows ; then, gorged and 
happy, sat him back among the gnawed bones to 
tell his artlcsB tales of experience — the tales of hun- 
ger and hunt — and of women, perhaps ! 

But luckily the wine happened to be as old as 
the waiter. So, comparatively empty, but upon the 
whole fairly happy, we sat back and told our artless 
tales. We talked of the sea and all its frorks. The 
sea never changes, and its works for all the talk of 
men are wrapped in mystery. But we agreed that 
the times were changed. And we talked of old 
ships, of sea-accidents, of break-downs, dismast- 
ings; and of a man who brought his ship safe to 
Liverpool all the way from the River Platte under 
[4] 



FALK 

a jury rudder. We talked of wrecks, of short ra- 
tions and of heroism — or at least of what the news- 
papers would have called heroism at sea — a mani- 
festation of virtues quite different from the heroism 
of primitive times. And now and tlien falling silent 
all together we gazed at the sights of the river. 

A P. & 0. boat passed bound down. *' One gets 
jolly good dinners on board these ships," remarked 
one of our band. A man with sharp eyes read out 
the name on her bows: Arcadia. "What a beauti- 
ful model of a ship ! " murmured some of us. She 
was followed by a small cargo steamer, and the flag 
they hauled down aboard while we were looking 
showed her to be a Norwegian. She made an awful 
lot of smoke ; and before it had quite blown away, a 
high-sided, short, wooden barque, in ballast and 
towed by a paddie-tug, appeared in front of the 
windows. All her hands were forward busy setting 
up the headgear ; and aft a woman in a red hood, 
quite alone with the man at the wheel, paced the 
length of the poop back and forth, with the grey 
wool of some knitting work in her hands. 

" German I should think," muttered one. " The ^ 
skipper has his wife on board," remarked another; 
[5] 



3 



FALK 

and the light of the crimson sunact all ablaze behind 
the London smoke, throwing a glow of Bengal tight 
upon the barque's spars, faded away from the Hope 
Reach. 

Then one of m, who had not spoken before, a 
man of over fifty, that had commanded ships for a 
quarter of a century, looking after the barque now 
gliding far away, all black on the lustre of the river, 
said: 

This reminds me of an absurd episode in my life, 
now many years ago, when I got first the command 
of an iron barque, loading then in a certain Eastern 
seaport. It was also the capital of an Eastern king- 
dom, lying up a river as might be London lies up 
this old Thames of ours. No more need be said of 
the place; for this sort of thing might have hap- 
pened anywhere where there arc ships, skippers, 
tugboats, and orphan nieces of indescribable splen- 
dour. And the absurdity of the episode concerns 
only me, my enemy Falk, and my friend Hermann, 

There seemed to be something like peculiar em- 

phasis on the words " My friend Hermann," which 

caused one of us (for we had just been speaking of 

heroism at sea) to say idly and nonchalantly; 

[6] 



PALK 

" And was this Hermann a hero? " 
Not at all, said our grizzled friend. No hero at 
all. He was a Schiff-f iihrer : Ship-conductor. 
That's how thej call a Master Mariner in Germany. 
I prefer our way. The alliteration is good, and 
there is something in the nomenclature that gives 
to us as a body the sense of corporate existence: 
Apprentice, Mate, Master, in the ancient and hon- 
ourable craft of the sea. As to my friend Hermann, 
he might have been a consummate master of the 
honourable craft, but he was called officially Schiff- 
fiihrer, and had the simple, heavy appearance of a 
well-to-do farmer, combined with the good-natured 
shrewdness of a small shopkeeper. With his shaven 
chin, round limbs, and heavy eyelids he did not look 
like a toiler, and even less like an adventurer of the 
sea. Still, he toiled upon the seas, in his own way, 
much as a shopkeeper works behind his counter. 
And his ship was the means by which he maintained 
his growing family. 

She was a heavy, strong, blunt-bowed affair, ' 

awakening the ideas of priimtive solidity, like the 

wooden plough of our forefathers. And there were, 

about her, other suggestions of a rustic and homely 

[7] 



FALK 

nature. The extraordinary timber projections 
which I have seen in no other vessel made her square 
etem resemble the tail end of a miller's waggon. 
But the four stern ports of her cabin, glazed with 
aix little greenish panes each, and framed in wooden 
sashes painted brown, might have been the windows 
of a cottage in the country. The tiny white cur- 
tains and the greenery of flower pots behind the 
glass completed the resemblance. On one or two 
occasions when passing under her stem I had de- 
tected from my boat a round arm in the act of tilt- 
ing a watering pot, and the bowed sleek head of a 
maiden whom I shall always call Hermann's niece, 
because as a matter of fact I've never heard her 
name, for all ray intimacy with the family. 

This, however, sprang up later on. Meantime in 
common with the rest of the shipping in that East- 
em port, I was left in no doubt as to Hermann's no- 
tions of hygienic clothing. Evidently he believed 
in wearing good stout flannel nest his skin. On 
most days little frocks and pinafores could be seen 
drying in the mizzen rigging of his ship, or a tiny 
row of socks fluttering on the signal halyards ; but 
once a fortnight the family washing was exhibited 
[8] 



FALK 

in force. It covered the poop entirely. The after- 
noon breeze would incite to a weird and flabby activ- 
ity all that crowded mass of clothing, with its vague 
suggestions of drowned, mutilated and flattened hu- 
manity. Trunks without heads waved at you arms 
without hands; legs without feet kicked fantasti- 
cally with collapsible flourishes ; and there were long 
white garments that, taking the wind fairly 
through their neck openings edged with lace, be- 
came for a moment violently distended as by the 
passage of obese and invisible bodies. On these days 
you could make out that ship at a great distance 
by the multi-coloured grotesque riot going on abaft 
her mizzen mast. 

She had her berth just ahead of me, and her 
name was Diana, — Diana not of Ephesus but of 
Bremen. This was proclaimed in white letters a 
foot long spaced widely across the stern (somewhat 
like the lettering of a shop-sign) under the cottage 
windows. This ridiculously unsuitable name struck 
one as an impertinence towards the memory of the 
most charming of goddesses ; for, apart from the 
fact that the old craft was physically incapable of 
engaging in any sort of chase, there was a gang of 
[9] 



FALK 

four children belonging ♦« bcr. They peeped over 
the rail at passing boats and occasionally dropped 
various objects into them. Thus, sometime before 
I knew Hermann to speak to, I received on my hat 
a horrid rag-doll belonging to Hermann's eldest 
daughter. However, these youngsters were upon 
the whole well behaved. They had fair heads, round 
eyes, round little knobby noses, and they resembled 
their father a good deal. 

This Diana of Bremen was a most innocent old 
ship, and seemed to know nothing of the wicked sea, 
as there arc on shore households that know nothing 
of the corrupt world. And the sentiments she sug- 
gested were unexceptionable and mainly of a do- 
mestic order. She was a home. AU these dear chil- 
I dren had learned to walk on her roomy quarter-deck. 
In such thoughts there is something pretty, even 
touching. Their teeth, I should judge, they had 
cut on the ends of her running gear. I have many 
times observed the baby Hermann (Nicholas) en- 
gaged in gnawing the whipping of the fore-royal 
brace. Nicholas' favourite place of residence was 
under the main fife-rail. Directly he was let loose 
he would crawl off there, and the first seaman who 
[10] 



FALI 

came along would bring hini, carefully held aloft 
in tarry hands, back to the cabin door. I fancy 
there must have been a standing order to that effect. 
In the course of these transportations the baby, 
who was the only peppery person in the ship, tried 
to smite these stalwart young German sailors on the 
face. 

Mrs. Hermann, an engaging, stout housewife, 
wore on board baggy blue dresses with white dots. 
When, as happened once or twice I caught her at an 
elegant little wash-tub rubbing hard on white col- 
lars, baby's socks, and Hermann's summer neck- 
ties, she would blush in girlish confusion, and rais- 
ing her wet hands greet me from afar with many 
friendly nods. Her sleeves would be rolled up to 
the elbows, and t]ie gold hoop of her wedding ring 
glittered among the soapsuds. Her voice was 
pleasant, she had a serene brow, smooth bands of 
very fair hair, and a good-humoured expression of 
the eyes. Slie was motherly and moderately talka- 
tive. When this simple matron smiled, youthful 
dimples broke out on her fresh broad cheeks. Her- 
mann's niece on the other hand, an orphan and very 
silent, I never saw attempt a smile. This, however, 

[11] 



sn away 



FALK 

unei^pected but possible, for Falk had taken 
the Diana at half-past five, and it was now two 
o'clock. Schomberg wished me to observe that 
neither of these men would spend a dollar on a tiffin, 
which they must have wanted. But by the time I 
was ready to leave the dining-room Falk had gone. 
I heard the last of his big boots on the planks of 
the verandah. Hermann was sitting quite alone in 
the large, wooden room with the two lifeless billiard 
tables shrouded in striped covers, mopping his face 
diligently. He wore his best go-ashore clothes, a 
stiff collar, black coat, large white waistcoat, grey 
trousers. A white cotton sunshade with a cane han- 
dle reposed between his legs, his side whiskers were 
neatly brushed, his chin had been freshly shaved; 
and he only distantly resembled the dishevelled and 
terrified man in a snuffy night shirt and ignoble old 
trousers I had seen in the morning hanging on to 
the wheel of the Diana. 

He gave a start at my entrance, and addressed 
me at once in some confusion, but with genuine ea- 
gerness. He was anxious to make it clear he had 
nothing to do with what he called the " tam piz- 
ncss " of the morning. It was most inconvenient. 
[S8] 




••••p^aam. 3. 









FALK 

refused. He was indeed. The damage ! The dam- 
age ! What for all that damage ! There was no 
occasion for damage. Did I know how much dam- 
age he had done.'' It gave me a certain satisfaction 
to tell him that I had heard his old waggon of a 
ship crack fore and aft as she went by. " You 
passed close enough to me," I added significantly. 

He threw both his hands up to heaven at the rec- 
ollection. One of them grasped by the middle the 
white parasol, and he resembled curiously a carica- 
ture of a shopkeeping citizen in one of his own Ger- 
man comic papers. " Ach ! That was dangerous," 
he cried. I was amused. But directly he added 
with an appearance of simplicity, *' The side of 
your iron ship would have been crushed in like^ — - 
like this matchbox." 

" Would it ? " I growled, much less amused now ; 
but by the time I had decided that this remark was 
not meant for a dig at me he had worked himself 
into a high state of resentfulness against Falk. 
The inconvenience, the damage, the expense ! Gott- 
ferdam ! Devil take the fellow. Behind the bar 
Schomberg with a cigar in his teeth, pretended to 
be writing with a pencil on a large sheet of paper; 
[60] 



FALK 

and u Hermann's excitement increased it made me 
comfortingly aware of my own calmness and supe- 
riority. But it occurred to me while I listened to 
his revilings, that after all the good man had come 
up in the tug. There perhaps — since he must come 
to town — -he had no option. But evidently he had 
had a drink with Falk, either accepted or offered. 
How was that? So I checked him by saying loftily 
that I hoped he would make Falk pay for every 
penny of the damage. 

" That's it ! That's it ! Go for him," called out 
Schomberg from the bar, flinging his pencil down 
and rubbing his hands. 

We ignored his noise. But Hermann's excite- 
ment suddenly went off the boil as when you remove 
a saucepan from the fire. I urged on his considera- 
tion that he had done now with Falk and Falk's con- 
founded tug. He, Hermann, would not, perhaps, 
turn up again in this part of the world for years to 
come, since he was going to sell the Diana at the end 
of this very trip (" Go home passenger in a mail 
boat," he murmured mechanically). He was there- 
fore safe from Falk's malice. All he had to do was 
to race o£F to his consignees and stop payment of 

[61] 



FALK 

Uie towage bill before Falk had the time to get in 
and lift the money. 

Nothing could have been less in the spirit of my 
advice than the thoughtful way in which he set 
about to make his parasol stay propped against the 
edge of the table. 

While I watched his concentrated efforts with as- 
tonishment he threw at mc one or two perplexed, 
half-shy glances. Then he sat down. " That's all 
very well," he said reflectively. 

It cannot be doubted that the man had been 
thrown off his balance by being hauled out of the 
liarbour against his wish. His stolidity had been 
profoundly stirred, else he would never have made 
up his mind to ask me unexpectedly whether I had 
not remarked that Falk had been casting eyes upon 
his niece. " No more than myself," I answered with 
literal truth. The girl was of the sort one necessa- 
rily casts eyes at in a sense. She made no noise, 
but she filled most satisfactorily a good bit of space. 

" But you, captain, are not the same kind of 
man," observed Hermann. 

I was not, I am happy to say, in a position to 

deny this. " What about the lady ? " I could not 

[62] 



PALK 

help asking. At this he gazed for a time Into my 
face, earnestly, and made as if to change the sub- 
ject. 1 heard him beginning to mutter something 
unexpected, about his children growing old enough 
to require schooling. He woiiJd have to leave them 
ashore with their grandmother wlien he took up that 
new command he expected to get in Germany. 

This constant harping on his domestic arrange- 
ments was funny, I suppose it must have been like 
the prospect of a complete alteration in his life. An 
epoch. He was going, too, to part with the Diana! 
He had served in her for years. He had inherited 
her. From an uncle, if I remember rightly. And 
the future loomed big before him, occupying his 
thought exclusively with all its aspects as on the 
eve of a venturesome enterprise. He sat there 
frowning and biting his lip, and suddenly he began 
to fume and fret. 

I discovered to my momentary amusement that 
he seemed to imagine I could, should or ought, 
have caused Falk in some way to pronounce him- 
self. Such a hope was, in comprehensible, but funny. 
Then the contact with all this foolishness irritated 
me. I said crossly that I had seen no symptoms, 
[63] 



PALK 

but if there were any — since he, Hermann, was so 
sure — then it was still worse. What pleasure FaUc 
found in humbugging people in just that way I 
couldn't say. It was, however, my solemn duty to 
warn him. It had lately, I said, come to ray knowl- 
edge that there was a man (not a very long time 
ago either) who had been taken in just like this. 

All this passed in undertones, and at this point 
Schomberg, exasperated at our secrecy, went out 
of the room slamming the door with a crash that 
positively lifted us in our chairs. This, or else what 
I had said, huffed my Hermann. He supposed, with 
a contemptuous toss of his head towards the door 
which trembled yet, that I had got hold of some of 
that man's silly tales. It looked, indeed, as though 
his mind had been thoroughly poisoned against 
Schomberg. " His tales were — they were," he re- 
peated, seeking for the word — " trash." They 
were trash, he reiterated, and moreover I was young 
yet . . . 

This horrid aspersion (I regret I am no longer 
exposed to that sort of insult) made me huify too. 
I felt ready in my own mind to back up every asser- 
tion of Schomberg's and on any subject. In a mo- 
[6*] 



ment, devil only knows why, Hermann and I were 
lookinjj; at each other most inimically. He cauglit 
up his hat without more ado and I gave myself the 
pleasure of calling after him : 

" Take mj advice and make Falk pay for break- 
ing up yo'ir ship. You aren't likely to get any- 
thing else out of him." 

When I got on board my ship later on, the old 
mate, who was very full of the events of the morn- 
ing, remarked : 

"I saw the tug coming back from the outer Roads 
just before two p.m." (He never by any chance used 
the words morning or afternoon. Always p.m. or 
A.M., log-book style.) " Smart work that. Man's 
always in a state of hurry. He's a regular 
chucker-out, ain't he, sir? There's a few pubs I 
know of in the East-end of London that would be 
all the better for one of his sort around the bar." 
He chuckled at his joke. " A regular chucker-out. 
Now he has fired out that Dutchman head over heels, 
I suppose our turn's coming to-morrow morning." 

We were all on deck at break of day (even the 

sick^ — poor devils — had crawled out) ready to cast 

off in the twinkling of an eye. Nothing came. 

[65] 



FALK 

Falk did not come. At last, when I began to think 
that probably something had gone wrong in Ilia 
engine-room, we perceived the tug going by, full 
pelt, down the river, as if we Iiadn't existed. For a 
moment I entertained the wild notion that he was 
going to turn round in the next reach. Afterwards 
I watched his smoke appear above the plain, now 
here, now there, according to the windings of the 
river. It disappeared. Then without a word I 
went down to breakfast. I just simply went down 
to breakfast. 

Not one of us uttered a sound till the mate, after 
imbibing — by means of suction out of a saucer — 
his second cup of tea, exclaimed : " Where the devil 
is the man gone to.'' " 

"Courting!" I shouted, with such a fiendish 
laugh that the old chap didn't venture to open his 
lips any more. 

I started to the office perfectly calm. Calm with 
excessive rage. Evidently they knew all about it 
already, and they treated me to a show of conster- 
nation. The manager, a soft-footed, immensely 
obese man, breathing short, got up to meet me, 
while all round the room the young clerks, bend- 
[66] 



PALK 

ing over the papers on their desks, cast upward 
glances in my direction. The fat man, without 
waiting for my complaint, wheezing heavily and 
in a tone as if he himself were incredulous, con- 
veyed to me the news that Falk — Captain Falk — 
had declined — had absolutely declined — to tow my 
ship — to have anything to do with my ship — this 
day or any other day. Never ! 

I did my best to preserve a cool appearance, but, 
all the same, I must have shown how much taken 
aback I was. We were talking in the middle of the 
room. Suddenly behind my back some ass blew 
his nose with great force, and at the same time an- 
other quill-driver jumped up and went out on the 
landing hastily. It occurred to me I was cutting 
a foolish figure there. I demanded angrily to see 
the principal in his private room. 

The skin of Mr. Siegers' head showed dead white 
between the Iron grey streaks of hair lying plas- 
tered cross-wise from ear to ear over the top of his 
skull in the manner of a bandage. His narrow 
sunken face was of an uniform and permanent ter- 
ra-cotta colour, like a piece of pottery. He was 
sickly, thin, and sliort, with wrists hke a boy of ten. 
[67] 



But from that debile body there issued a bullying 
voice, tremendously loud, harsh and resonant, as 
if produced by some powerful mechanical contriv- 
ance in the nature of a fog-horn. I do not know 
what he did with it in the private life of his home, 
but in the larger sphere of business it presented the 
advantage of overcoming arguments without the 
slightest mental eiFort, by the mere volume of 
sound. We had had several passages of arms. It 
took me all I knew to guard the interests of my 
owners — whom, nota bene, I had never seen — while 
Siegers (who had made their acquaintance some 
years before, during a business tour in Australia) 
pretended to the knowledge of their innermost 
minds, and, in the character of " our very good 
friends," threw them perpetually at my head. 

He looked at me with a jaundiced eye (there was 
no love lost between us), and declared at once that 
it was strange, very strange. His pronunciation 
of English was so extravagant that I can't even 
attempt to reproduce it. For instance, he said 
" Fferie strantch." Combined with the bellowing 
intonation it made the language of one's childhood 
sound weirdly startling, and even if considered 
[68] 



PALK 

purely as a kind of usineaning noise it filled you 
with astonishment at first. " They had," he con- 
tinued, " been acquainted with Captain Falk for 
very many years, and never had any reason. . . ." 

" That's why I come to you, of course," I inter- 
rupted. " I've the right to know the meaning of 
this infernal nonsense." In the half light of the 
room, which was greenish, because of the tree-tops 
screening the window, I saw him writhe his meagre 
shoulders. It came into my head, as disconnected 
ideas wiD come at all sorts of times into one's head, 
that this, most likely, was the very room where, if 
the tale were true, Falk had been lectured by Mr. . 
Siegers, the father. Mr. Siegers' (the son's) over- 
whelming voice, in brassy blasts, as though he had 
been trying to articulate his words through a trom- 
bone, was expressing his great regret at a conduct 
characterised by a very marked want of discre- 
tion. . . As I lived I was being lectui-ed too ! His 
deafening gibberish was difficult to follow, but it 
was my conduct — mine ! — that . . . Damn ! I 
wasn't going to stand this. 

"What on earth are you driving at?" I asked 

in a passion, I put my hat on my head (he never 

[69] 



FALK 

offered a scat to anybody), and as he seemed for 
the inoment struck dumb by my irreverence, I 
turned my back on him and marched out. His vo- 
cal arrangements blared after me a few threats of 
coming down on the ship for the demurrage of the 
lighters, and all the other expenses consequent 
upon the delays arising from my frivolity. 

Once outside in the sunshine my head swam. It 
was no longer a question of mere delay. I per- 
ceived myself involved in hopeless and humiliating 
absurdities that were leading me to something very 
like a disaster. " Let us be calm," I muttered to 
myself, and ran into the shade of a leprous wall. 
From that short side-street I could see the broad 
main thoroughfare ruinous and gay, running 
away, away between stretches of decaying mason- 
ry, bamboo fences, ranges of arcades of brick and 
plaster, hovels of lath and mud, lofty temple gates 
of carved timber, huts of rotten mats — an im- 
mensely wide thoroughfare, loosely packed as far 
as the eye could reach with a barefooted and brown 
multitude paddling ankle deep in the dust. For a 
moment I felt myself about to go out of ray mind 



with worry and desperation. 
[70] 



FALK 

Some allowance must be made for the feelings 
of a young man new to responsibility. I thought 
of my crew. Half of them were ill, and I really 
began to think that some of them would end by dy- 
ing on board if I couldn't get them out to sea soon. 
Obviously I should have to take my ship down the 
river, either working under canvas or dredging 
with the anchor down; operations which, in com- 
mon with many modern sailors, I only knew theo- 
retically. And I almost shrank from undertaking 
them shorthanded and without local knowledge 
of the river bed, which is so necessary for the con- 
fident handling of the ship. There were no pilots, 
no beacons, no buoys of any sort ; but there was a 
very devil of a current for anybody to see, no end 
of shoal places, and at least two obviously awkward 
turns of the channel between me and the sea. But 
how dangerous these turns were I would not tell. I 
didn't even know what my ship was capable of! 
I had never handled her in my life. A misunder- 
standing between a man and his ship in a difficult 
river with no room to make it up, is bound to end in 
trouble for the man. On the other hand, it must 
be owned I had not much reason to count upon a 
[71] 



FALK 



general run of good luck. And suppose I had 
misfortune to pile her up high and dry 
beastly shoal F That would have been the final un- 
doing of that voyage. It was plain that if Falk 
refused to tow me out he would also refuse to pull 
me off. This meant — what.'' A day lost at the 
very best; but more likely a whole fortnight of 
frizzling on some pestilential mudflat, of desperate 
work, of discharging cargo; more than likely it 
meant borrowing money at an exorbitant rate of 
interest- — -from the Siegers' gang loo at that. They 
were a power in the port. And that elderly seaman 
of mine, Gambril, had looked pretty ghastly when 
I went forward to dose him with quinine that morn- 
ing. He would certainly die — not to speak of two 
or three others that seemed nearly aa bad, and of 
the rest of them just ready to catch any tropical 
disease going. Horror, ruin and everlasting re- 
morse. And no help. None. I had fallen amongst 
a lot of unfriendly lunatics! 

At any rate, if I must take my ship down myself 
it was my duty to procure if possible some local 
knowledge. But that was not easy. The only per- 
son I could think of for that service was a certain 
[7g] 



ad the 
1 some 



PALK 

Johnson, formerlj captain of a iwuntry ship, but 
now spliced to a country wife and gone utterly to 
the bad. I had only heard of him in the vaguest 
way, as living concealed in the thick of two hundred 
thousand natives, and only emerging into the light 
of day for the purpose of hunting up some brandy. 
I had a notion that if I could lay my hands on him 
I would sober him on board my ship and use him 
for a pilot. Better than nothing. Once a sailor 
always a sailor — and he had known the river for 
years. But in our Consulate (where I arrived drip- 
ping after a sharp walk) they could tell me noth- 
ing. The excellent young men on the staff, though 
willing to help me, belonged to a sphere of the 
white colony for which that sort of Johnson does 
not exist. Their suggestion was that I should hunt 
the man up myself with the help of the Consulate's 
constable — an ex -sergeant- major of a regiment of 
Hussars. 

This man, whose usual duty apparently consisted 
in sitting behind a little table in an outer room 
of Consular ofiices, when ordered to assist me in 
my search for Johnson displayed lots of energy 
and a marvellous amount of local knowledge of a 
[73] 



FALK 

Bort. But he did not conceal an unmcase and scep- 
tical contempt for the whole business. We explored 
together on that afternoon an infinity of infamous 
grog shops, gambling dens, opium dens. We 
walked up narrow lanes where our gharrj — a tiny 
box of a thing on wheels, attached to a jibbing Bur- 
niah pony — could by no means have passed. The 
constable seemed to be on terms of scornful inti- 
macy with Maltese, with Euraniiins, with China- 
men, with Klings, and with the sweepers attached 
to a temple, with whom he tallied at the gate. We 
interviewed also tlirough a grating in a mud wall 
closing a blind alley an immensely corpulent Ital- 
ian, who, the ex-sergeant-major remarked to me 
perfunctorily, had " killed another man last year." 
Thereupon he addressed him as " Antonio " and 
" Old Buck," though that bloated carcase, appar- 
ently more than half filling the sort of cell where- 
in it sat, recalled rather a fat pig in a stye. Fa- 
miliar and never unbending, the sergeant chucked 
—absolutely chucked — under the chin a horribly 
wrinkled and shrivelled old hag propped on a stick, 
who had volunteered some sort of information : and 
with the same stohd face he kept up an animated 
[74] 



FALK 

converaation with the groups of swathed brown 
women, who sat smoking cheroots on the door-stepB 
of a long range of ciay hovels. We got out of the 
gharry and clambered into dwellings airy like 
packing crates, or descended into places sinister 
like cellars. We got in, we drove on, we got out 
again for the .sole purpose, as it seemed, of looking 
behind a heap of rubble. The sun declined; my 
companion was curt and sardonic in his answers, 
but it appears we were just missing Johnson all 
along. At last our conveyance stopped once more 
with a jerk, and the driver jumping down opened 
the door. 

A black mudhole blocked the lane, A mound of 
garbage crowned with the dead body of a dog ar- 
rested us not. An empty Australian beef tin 
bounded cheerily before the toe of my boot. Sud- 
denly we clambered through a gap in a prickly 
fence, , . . 

It was a very clean native compound: and the 
big native woman, with bare brown legs as thick 
as bedposts, pursuing on all fours a silver dollar 
that came rolling out from somewhere, was Mrs. 
Johnson herself. " Your man's at home," said the 
[75] 



he corrected suavely. " Met me taking the air 
last evening, and being as usual anKious to oblige 

Hadn't you better go to the devil out of my 

compound ? " 

And upon this, without other warning, he let 
fly with the banana which missed my head, and took 
the constable just under the left eye. He rushed 
at the miserable Johnson, stammering with fury. 
They fell. . . . But why dwell on the wretched- 
ness, the breathlefisness, the degradation, the sense- 
lessness, the weariness, the ridicule and humiliation 
and — and — the perspiration, of these moments? I 
dragged the ex-hussar off. He was like a wild 
beast. It seems lie liad been greatly annoyed at 
losing his free afternoon on my account. The gar- 
den of his bungalow required his personal atten- 
tion, and at the sliglit blow of the banana the brute 
in him had broken loose. We left Johnson on hia* 
back, still black in the face, but beginning to kick 
feebly. Meantime, the big woman had remained 
sitting on the ground, apparently paralysed with 
extreme terror. 

For half an hour we jolted inside our rolling 

box, side by side, in profound silence. The ex-ser- 

[78] 



PALK 

geant was busy staunchiDg the blood of a long 
scratch on his cheek. " I hope you're satisfied," he 
said suddenly. " That's what comes of all that 
tomfool business. If you hadn't quarrelled with 
that tugboat skipper over some girl or other, all 
this wouldn't have happened." 

" You heard that story?" I said. 

" Of course I heard. And I shouldn't wonder if 
the Consul-Gen era I himself doesn't come to hear 
of it. How am I to go before him to-morrow with 
that thing on my cheek^ — I want to know. Its 
you who ought to have got this !" 

After that, till the gharry stopped and he 
jumped out without leave-taking, he swore to him- 
self steadily, horribly; muttering great, purpose- 
ful, trooper oaths, to which the worst a sailor can 
do is like the prattle of a child. For my part I had 
just the strength to crawl into Schomberg's coffee- 
room, where I wrote at a little table a note to the 
mate instructing him to get everything ready for 
dropping down the river nest day. I couldn't 
face my ship. Well ! she had a clever sort of skip- 
per and no mistake— poor thing! What a horrid 
mess! I took my head between my hands. At 
[79] 



FALK 

times the obviousness of my innocence would reduce 
me to despair. Wliat had I done? If I had done 
something to bring about the situation I should at 
least have learned not to do it again. But I felt 
guiltless to the point of imbecility. The room was 
empty yet; only Schomberg prowled round me 
goggle-eyed and with a sort of awed respectful cu- 
riosity. No doubt he had set the story going him- 
self; but he was a good-hearted chap, and I am 
really persuaded he participated in all my troubles. 
He did what he could for me. He ranged aside the 
heavy matchstand, set a chair straight, pushed a 
spittoon slightly with his foot — as you show small 
attentions to a friend under a great sorrow — 
sighed, and at last, unable to hold his tongue : 

" Well ! I warned you, captain. That's what 
comes of running your head against Mr. Falk. 
Man'll stick at nothing." 

I sat without stirring, and after surveying me 
with a sort of commiseration in his eyes he burst 
out in a hoarse whisper: '* But for a fine lump of 
a girl, she's a fine lump of a girl." He made a loud 
smacking noise with his thick lips. " The finest 
lump of a girl that I ever . . ." he was going on 
[80] 



FALK 

with great unction, but for some reason or other 
broke off. I fancied myself throwing something 
at his head. " I don't blame you, captain. Hang 
me if I do," he said with a patronising air. 

" Thank you," I said resignedly. It was no use 
fighting against this false fate. I don't know even 
if I was sure myself where the truth of the matter 
began. The conviction that it would end disas- 
trously had been driven into me by all the succes- 
sive shocks my sense of security had received. I 
began to ascribe an extraordinary potency to 
agents in themselves powerless. It was as if 
Schomberg's baseless gossip had the power to bring 
about the thing itself or the abstract enmity of 
Falk could put my ship ashore. 

I have already explained how fatal this last 
would have been. For my further action, my 
youth, my inexperience, ray very real concern for 
the health of my crew must be my excuse. The ac- 
tion itself, when it came, was purely impulsive. It 
was set in movement quite undiplomatically and 
simply by Falk's appearance in the doorway. 

The room was full by then and buzzing with 
[81] 



PALK 

voices, I had been looked at with curioBity by 
every one, but how am I to describe the sensation 
produced by the appearance of FalJt himself block- 
ing the doorway? The tension of expectation 
could be measured by the profundity of the silence 
that fell upon the very click of the billiard balls. 
As to Schomberg, he looked extremely frightened ; 
he hated mortally any sort of row (fracas he called 
it) in his establishment. Fracas was bad for busi- 
ness, he aflfirmed; but, in truth, this specimen of 
portly, middle-aged manhood was of a timid dis- 
position. I don't know what, considering my pres- 
ence in the place, they all hoped would conie of it, 
A sort of stag fight, perhaps. Or they may have 
supposed Falk had come in only to annihilate me 
completely. As a matter of fact, Falk had come in 
because Hermann had asked himto inquire after the 
precious white cotton parasol which, in the worry 
and excitement of the previous day, he had forgot- 
ten at the table where we had held our little discus- 



It was this that gave me my opportunity. I 

don't think I would have gone to seek Falk out. 

No. I don't think so. There are limits. But there 

[82] 



FALK 

was an opportunity and I seized it — I have already 
tried to explain why. Now I will merely state tliat, 
in mj* opinion, to get his sickly crew into the sea 
air and secure a quick despatch for his ship a skip- 
per would be justified in going to any length, sliort 
of absolute crime. He should put his pride in his 
pocket ; he may accept confidences ; explain his in- 
nocence as if it were a sin ; he may tiike advantage 
of misconceptions, of desires and of weaknesses ; he 
ought to conceal his horror and other emotions, 
and, if the fate of a human being, and that human 
being a magnificent young girl, is strangely in- 
volved — why, he should contemplate that fate 
(whatever it might seem to be) without turning a 
hair. And all these things I have done; the ex- 
plaining, the listening, the pretending — even to 
the discretion — and nobody, not even Hermann's 
niece, I believe, need throw stones at me now. 
Schomberg at all events needn't, since from first to 
last, I am happy to say, there was not the slightest 
-fraca..- 

Overcoming a nervous contraction of the wind- 
pipe, I had managed to exclaim " Captain Falk ! " 
His start of siu-prise was perfectly genuine, but 
[83] 



PALK 

afterwards he neither sniiled nor scowled. He sim- 
ply waited. Then, when I had said, " I must have 
a talk with you," and had pointed to a chair at my 
table, he moved up to me, though he didn't sit 
down. Schomberg, however, with a long tumbler 
in his hand, was making towards us prudently, and 
I discovered then the only sign of weakness in Falk. 
He had for Schomberg a repulsion resembling that 
sort of physical fear some people experience at the 
sight of a toad. Perhaps to a man so essentially 
and silently concentrated upon himself (though he 
could talk well enough, as I was to find out 
presently) the other's irrepressible loquacity, em- 
bracing every human being within range of the 
tongue, might have appeared unnatural, disgust- 
ing, and monstrous. He suddenly gave signs of 
restiveness- — positively like a horse about to rear, 
and, muttering hurriedly as if in great pain, " No. 
I can't stand that fellow," seemed ready to bolt. 
This weakness of his gave me the advantage at the 
very start. " Verandah," I suggested, as if ren- 
dering him a service, and walked him out by the 
arm. We stumbled over a few chairs ; we had the 
feeling of open space before us, and felt the fresh 
[81] 



FALK 

breath of the river — fresh, but tainted. The Chi- 
nese theatres across the water made, in the sparsely 
twinkling masses of gloom an Eastern town pre- 
sents at night, blazing centres of light, and of a 
distant and howling uproar, I felt liim become 
suddenly tractable again like an animal, like a 
good-tempered horse when the object that scares 
him is removed. Yes. I felt in the darkness there 
how tractable he was, without mj conviction of his ' 
inflexibility— tenacity, rather, perhaps — being in 
tlie least weakened. His very arm abandoning it- 
self to my grasp was as hard as marble^ — like a limb 
of iron. But I heard a tumultuous scuffling of 
boot-soles within. The unspeakable idiots inside 
were crowding to the windows, climbing over each 
other's backs behind the blinds, billiard cues and all. 
Somebody broke a window pane, and with the sound 
of falling glass, so suggestive of riot and devasta- 
tion, Schomberg reeled out after us in a state of 
funk which had prevented his parting with his 
brandy and soda. He must have trembled like an 
Bspen leaf. The piece of ice in the long tumbler 
he held in his hand tinkled with an effect of chat- 
tering teeth. " I beg you, gentlemen," he expost- 
[86] 



PALK 

ulated thickly. " Come ! Really, now, I must in- 
sist . . ." 

How proud I am of my presence of mind! 
" Hallo," I said instantly in a loud and naive tone, 
*' somebody's breaking your windows, Schomberg. 
Would you please tell one of your boys to bring 
out here a pack of cards and a couple of lights? 
And two long drinks. Will you ? " 

To receive an order soothed him at once. It was 
business. " Certainly," he said in an immensely 
relieved tone. The night was rainy, with wander- 
ing gusts of wind, and while we waited for the can- 
dles Falk said, as if to justify his panic, " I don't 
interfere in anybody's business. I don't give any 
occasion for talk. I am a respectable man. But 
this follow is always making out something wrong, 
and can never rest till he gets somebody to believe 
him." 

This was the first of my knowledge of Falk. 
This desire of respectability, of being like every- 
body else, was the only recognition he vouchsafed 
to the organisation of mankind. For the rest he 
might have been the member of a herd, not of a so- 
ciety. Self-preservation was his only concern. 
[86] 



FALK 

Not selfishness, but mere self-preservation. Sel- 
fishness presupposes consciousness, choice, the pres- 
ence of other men ; but his instinct acted as though 
he were the last of mankind nursing that law like 
the only spark of a sacred Are. I don't mean to 
say that living naked in a cavern would have satis- 
fied him. Obviously he was the creature of the 
conditions to which he was born. No doubt self- 
preservation meant also the preservation of these 
conditions. But essentially it meant something 
much more simple, natural, and powerful. How 
shall I express iti* It meant the preservation of the 
five senses of his body — let us say — taking it in its 
narrowest as well as in its widest meaning. I think 
you will admit before long the justice of this judg- 
ment. However, as we stood there together in the 
dark verandah I had judged nothing as yet — and 
I had no desire to judge — which is an idle practice 
anyliow. The light was long in coming. 

" Of course," I said in a tone of mutual under- 
standing, " it isn't exactly a game of cards I want 
with you." 

I saw him draw lus hands down his face — the 
[87] 




FALK 
vague stir of the passionate and meaningless ges- 
ture i but lie waited in silent patience. It was only 
when the lights had been brought out that he 
opened his lips. I understood his mumble to n 
that "he didn't know any game." 

" Like this Schomberg and all the other fools 
will have to keep off," I said tearing open the pack. 
" Have you heard that we are universally supposed 
to be quarrelling about a girl? You know who — 
of course. I am really ashamed to ask, but is it 
possible that you do me the honour to think me dan- 
gerous ? " 

As I said these words I felt how absurd it was 
and also I felt flattered — for, really, what dse 
eould it be? His answer, spoken in his usual dis- 
passionate undertone, made it clear that it was so, 
but not precisely as flattering as I supposed. He 
thought me dangerous with Hermann, more than 
with the girl herself; but, as to quarrelling, I saw 
at once how inappropriate the word was. We had 
no quarrel. Natural forces are not quarrelsome. 
You can't quarrel with the wind that inconveniences 
and humiliates you by blowing off your hat in a 
street full of people. He had no quarrel with me. 
[88] 



J 



FALK 

Neither vould a boulder, falling on my head, have 
had. He fell upon me in accordance with the law 
by which he was moved— not of gravitation, hke a 
detached stone, but of self-preservation. Of course 
this is giving it a rather wide interpretation. 
Strictly speaking, he had existed and could have 
existed without being married. Yet he told me that 
he had found it more and more difficult to live 
alone. Yes. He told me this in his low, careless 
voice, to such a pitch of confidence had we arrived 
at the end of half an hour. 

It took me just about that time to convince him 
that I had never dreamed of marrying Hermann's 
niece. Could any necessity have been more extrava- 
gant P And the difficulty was the greater because 
he was so hard hit that he couldn't imagine any- 
body being able to remain in a state of indifference. 
Any man with eyes in his head, he seemed to think, 
could not help coveting so much bodily magnifi- 
cence. This profound belief was conveyed by the 
manner he listened sitting sideways to the table and 
playing absently with a few carda I had dealt to 
him at random. And the more I saw into him the i 
more I saw of him. The wind swayed the lights 
[89] 



FALK 

so that his sunburnt face, whiskered to the eyes, 
seemed to succcssivelj" flicker crimson at me and to 
go out. I saw the extraordinary breadth of the 
high cheek-bones, the perpendicular style of the 
features, the massive forehead, steep like a cliff, 
denuded at the top, largely uncovered at the tem- 
ples. The fact is I had never before seen him with- 
out his hat ; but now, as if my fervour had made 
him hot, ho had taken it off and laid it gently on 
the floor. Something peculiar in the shape and 
setting of his yellow eyes gave them the provoking 
silent intensity which characterised his glance. 
But the face was thin, furrowed, worn ; I discov- 
ered that through the bush of his hair, as you may 
detect the gnarled shape of a tree trunk lost in a 
dense undergrowth. These overgrown clieeks were 
sunken. It was an anchorite's bony head fitted with 
a Capuchin's beard and adjusted to a herculean 
body. I don't mean athletic. Hercules, I take it, 
was not an athlete. He was a strong man, suscep- 
tible to female charms, and not afraid of dirt. 
And thus with Falk, who was a strong man. He 
was extremely strong, just as the girl (since I 
must think of them together) was magnificently at- 
[90] 



FALK 

tractive bj the masterful power of flesh and blood, 
expressed in shape, in size, in attitude — that is by 
a straight appeal to the senses. His mind mean- 
time, preoccupied with respectability, quailed be- 
fore Schoniberg's tongue and seemed absolutely 
impervious to my protestations ; and I went so far 
as to protest that I would just as soon think of 
marrying my mother's (dear old lady!) faithful 
female cook as Hermann's niece. Sooner, I pro- 
tested, in my desperation, much sooner; but it did 
not appear that he saw anything outrageous in the 
proposition, and in his sceptical immobility he 
aeemed to nurse the argument that at all events the 
cook was very, very far away. It must be said that, 
just before, I had gone wrong by appealing to the 
evidence of my manner whenever I called on board 
the Duma. I had never attempted to approach the 
girl, or to speak to her, or even to look at her in any 
marked way. Nothing could be clearer. But, as 
his own idea of — -let us say — courting, seemed to 
consist precisely in sitting silently for hours in the 
vicinity of the beloved object, that line of argu- 
ment inspired him witli distrust. Staring down his 
extended legs he let out a grunt— as much as to 
[91] 



miy, " That's all very 6ne, but you can't throw dust 
in my eyes." 

At last I waB exasperated into saying, " Why 
don't you put the matter at rest by talking to Her- 
mann ? " and I added sneeringly : " You don't ex- 
pect me perhaps to speak for you? " 

To this he said, very loud for him, " Would 
you? " 

And for the first time he lifted his head to look 
at me with wonder and incredulity. He lifted his 
head so sharply that there could be no mistake, I 
haij touched a spring. I saw the whole extent of 
my opportunity, and could hardly believe in it, 

" Why. Speak to . . . Well, of course," I 
proceeded very slowly, watching him with great at- 
tention, for, on my word, I feared a joke. " Not, 
perhaps, to the young lady herself. I can't speak 
German, you know. But . . ." 

He interrupted me with the earnest assurance 
that Hermann had the highest opinion of me : and 
at once I felt the need for the greatest possible 
diplomacy at this juncture. So I demurred just 
enough to draw him on. Falk sat up, but except 



J 



FALK 

for a very noticeable enlargement of the pupils, 
till the irises of his eyes were reduced to two narrow 
yellow rings, liis face, I shotild judge, was incapa- 
ble of expressing excitement. " Oh, yes ! Hermann 
did have the greatest . . ." 

" Take up your cards. Here's Schomberg peep- 
ing at us through the blind ! " I said. 

We went througli the motions of what might 
have been a game of ecarte. Presently the intoler- 
able scandalmonger withdrew, probably to inform 
the people in the billiard -room tliat we two were 
gambling on the verandah like mad. 

We were not gambling, but it was a game ; a 
game in which I felt I held the winning cards. The 
stake, roughly speaking, was the success of the voy- 
age — for me: and lie, I apprehended, had nothing 
to lose. Our intimacy matured rapidly, and before 
many words had been exchanged I perceived that 
the excellent Hermann had been making use of me. 
That simple and astute Teuton had been, it seems, 
holding me up to Falk in the light of a rival. I 
was young enough to be shocked at so much duplic- 
ity. " Did he tell you that in so many words? " I 
afiked with indignation, 

[93] 



FALK 

Hermann had not. Ht had given hints only; 
and of course it had not taken very much to alarui 
Falk ; but, instead of declaring himself, he had 
taken steps to remove the family from under my in- 
fluence. He was perfectly straightforward about 
it — as straightforward as a tile falling on your 
head. There was no duplicity in that man; and 
when I congratulated him on the perfection of his 
arrangements — even to the bribing of the wretched 
Johnson against me — he had a genuine movement 
of protest. Never bribed. He knew the man 
wouldn't work as long as he had a few cents in his 
pocket to get drunk on, and, naturally (he said — 
" TUtturally ") he let him have a dollar or two. He 
was himself a sailor, he said, and anticipated the 
view another sailor, like myself, was bound to take. 
On the other hand, he was sure that I should have 
to come to grief. He hadn't been knocking about 
for the last seven years up and down that river for 
nothing. It would have been no disgrace to me — 
but he asserted confidently I would have had my 
ship very awkwardly ashore at a spot two miles 
below the Great Pagoda. . . . 

And with aU that he had no ill-wiU. That was 
[94] 



evident. This was a crisis in which his only object 
had been to gain time — I fancy. And presently 
he mentioned that he had written for some jewel- 
lery, real good jewellery — had written to Hong- 
Kong for it. It would arrive in a day or two. 

" Well, then," I said cheerily, '* everything is all 
right. All you've got to do is to present it to the 
lady together with your heart, and hve happy ever 
after." 

Upon the whole he seemed to accept that view as 
far as the girl was concerned, but his eyelids 
drooped. There was still something in the way. 
For one thing Hermann disliked him so much. As 
to me, on the contrary, it seemed as though he could 
not praise me enough. Mrs. Hermann too. He 
didn't know why they disliked him so. It made 
everything most difficult. 

I listened impassive, feeling more and more dip- 
lomatic. His speech was not transparently clear. 
He was one of those men who seem to live, feel, 
suffer in a sort of mental twilight. But as to being 
fascinated by the girl and possessed by the desire 
of home life with her — it was as clear as daylight. 
So much being at stake, he was afraid of putting 
[96] 




FALK 
it to the hazard of the declaration. Besides, there 
was something else. And with HemianQ being bo 
set against him . . . 

" I see," I said thoughtfully, while my heart beat 
fast with the excitement of my diplomacy. " I 
don't mind sounding Hermann. In fact, to show 
you how mistaken you were, I am ready to do all I 
can for you in that way." 

A light sigh escaped him. He drew his hands 
down his face, and it emerged, bony, unchanged of 
expression, as if all the tissues had been ossified. 
All the passion was in those big brown htmds. He 
was satisfied. Then there was that other matter. 
If there were anybody on eartli it was I who could 
persuade Hermann to take a reasonable viewt I 
had a knowledge of the world and lots of expe- 
rience. Hermann admitted this himself. And then 
I was a sailor too. Falk thought that a sail- 
or would be able to understand certain things 
best. . . . 

He talked as if the Hermanns had been living all 
their hfe in a rural hamlet, and I alone had been 
capable, with my practice in life, of a large and 
indulgent view of certain occurrences. That was 



FALK 

what my diplomacy was leading me to. I began 
suddenly to dislike it. 

** I say, Falk," I asked quite brusquely, " you 
haven't already a wife put away somewhere? " 

The pain and disgust of his denial were very 
striking. Couldn't I understand that he was as 
respectable as any white man hereabouts ; earning 
ing honestly. He was suffering from my sus- 
picion, and the low undertone of his voice made his 
protestations sound very pathetic. For a moment 
he shamed me, but, my diplomacy notwithstanding, 
I seemed to develop a conscience, as if in very 
truth it were in my power to decide the success of 
this matrimonial enterprise. By pretending hard 
enough we come to believe anything — -anything to 
our advantage. And I had been pretending very 
hard, because I meant yet to be towed safely down 
the river. But through conscience or stupidity, I 
couldn't help alluding to the Vanlo affair. " You 
acted rather badly there. Didn't you? " was what 
I ventured actually to say — for the logic of our 
conduct is always at the mercy of obscure and un- 
foreseen impulses. 

His dilated pupils swerved from my face, glan- 
[97] 




FALK 

cing at the window with a sort of scared fury. We 
heard behind tlie bUnds the continuous and sudden 
chcking of ivory, a jovial murmur of many voices, 
and Scliomberg's deep manly laugh. 

" That confounded old woman of a hotel-keeper 
then would never, never let it rest ! " Falk ex- 
claimed. " Well, yes ! It liad happened two years 
ago." Wlien it came to the point he owned he 
couldn't make up his mind to trust Fred Vanlo — 
no sailor, a bit of a fool too. He could not trust 
him, but, to stop his row, he had lent him enough 
money to pay all his debts before He left. I was 
greatly surprised to hear this. Then Falk could 
not be such a miser after all. So much the better 
for the girl. For a time he sat silent; then he 
picked up a card, and while looking at it he 

" You need not think of anything bad. It was 
an accident. I've been unfortunate once." 

" Then in heaven's name say nothing about it." 
As soon as these words were out of my mouth I 
fancied I had said something immoral. He shook 
his head negatively. It had to be told. He con- 
sidered it proper that the relations of the lady 
[88] 



PALK 

should know. No doubt — I tliought to myself — ■ 
had Miss Vanlo not been thirty and damaged by the 
climate he would have found it possible to entrust 
Fred Vanlo with this confidence. And then the fig- 
ure of Hermann's niece appeared before my mind's 
eye, with the wealtli of her opulent form, her rich 
youth, her lavish strength. With that powerful 
and immaculate vitality, her girlish form must have 
shouted aloud of life to that man, whereas poor 
Miss Vanlo could only sing sentimental songs to 
the strumming of a piano. 

" And that Hermann hates me, I know it ! " he 
cried in his undertone, with a sudden recrudescence 
of anxiety. " I must tell them. It is proper that 
they should know. You would say so yourself." 

He then murmured an utterly mysterious allu- 
sion to the necessity for peculiar domestic arrange- 
ments. Though my curiosity was excited I did not 
want to hear any of his confidences. I feared he 
might give me a piece of information that would 
make my assumed role of match-maker odious — 
however unreal it was. I was aware that he could 
have the girl for the asking; and keeping down a 
desire to laugh in his face, I expressed a confident 
[99] 



PALK 

belief in my ability to argue away Hermann's dis- 
like for him. " I am sure I can make it all right," 
I said. He looked very pleased. 

And when we ro.se not a word had been said about 
towage ! Not a word ! The game was won and the 
honour was safe. Oh ! blessed white cotton um- 
brella ! We shook hands, and I was holding myself 
with difficulty from breaking into a step dance of 
joy when he came back, striding ull the length of 
the verandah, and said doubtfully : 

" I say, captain, I have your word? You — you 
— won't turn round.'' " 

Heavens ! The fright he gave me. Behind his 
tone of doubt there was something desperate and 
menacing. The infatuated ass. But I was equal to 
the situation. 

" My dear Falk," I said, beginning to lie with 
a glibness and effrontery that amazed me even at 
the time — " confidence for confidence." (He had 
made no confidences. ) "I will tell you that I am 
already engaged to nn extremely charming girl at 
home, and so you understand. . . ." 

He caught my hand and wrung it in a crushing 
grip. 

[100] 



PALK 

" Pardon me. I feel it every day liicrfe diiGcult 
to live alone . . ." / 

" On rice and fish," I interrupted smartly; "gig- 
gling with the sheer nervousness of a danger es- . 
caped. 

He dropped my hand as if it had become sud- 
denly rod hot. A moment of profound silence en- 
sued, as though something extraordinary had hap- 
pened. 

" I promise you to obtain Hermann's consent," 
I faltered out at last, and it seemed to me that he 
could not help seeing through that humbug- 
ging promise. ** If there's anything else to get 
r I shall endeavour to stand by you," I conceded 
further, feeling somehow defeated and overborne; 
" but you must do your best yourself." 

" I have been unfortunate once," he muttered 
unemotionally, and turning his back on me he went 
away, thumping slowly the plank floor as if his feet 
had been shod with iron. 

Next morning, however, he was lively enough as 
man-boat, a combination of splashing and shout- 
ing; of the insolent commotion below with the 
steady overbearing glare of the silent head-piece 
[101] 




PALK 

above. -H^'turned us out most unnecessarily at an 
ungofjlj- hour, but it was nearly eleven in the morn- 
ingfefore lie brought nie up a cable's length from 
Hermann's ship. And he did it very badly too, in 
*a hurry, and nearly contriving to miss altogether 
the patch of good holding ground, because, for- 
sooth, he had caught sight of Hermann's niece on 
the poop. And so did I; and probably as soon as 
he had seen her himself. I saw the modest, sleek 
glory of the tawny head, and the full, grey shape 
of the girlish print frock she filled so perfectly, so 
satisfactorily, with the seduction of unfaltering 
curves — a very nymph of Diana the Huntress. 
And Diana the ship sat, high-walled and as solid 
as an institution, on the smooth level of the water, 
the most uninspiring and respectable craft upon 
the seas, useful and ugly, devoted to the support 
of domestic virtues like any grocer's shop on shore. 
At once Falk steamed away; for there was some 
work for him to do. He would return in the even- 
ing. 

He ranged close by us, passing out dead slow, 
without a hail. The beat of the paddle-wheels re- 
verberating amongst the stony islets, as if from the 



PALK 

ruined walls of a vast arena, filled the anchorage 
confusedly with the clapping sounds of a mighty 
and leisurely applause. Abreast of Hermann's 
ship he stopped tlie engines ; and a profound si- 
lence reigned over the rocks, the shore and the sea, 
for the time it took him to raise his hat aloft before 
the nymph of the grey print frock. I had snatched 
up my binoculars; and I can answer for it she didn't 
stir a limb, standing by the rail shapely and erect, 
with one of her hands grasping a rope at the height 
of her head, while the way of the tug carried slowly 
past her the lingering and profound homage of the 
man. There was for ine an enormous significance 
in the scene, the sense of having witnessed a solemn 
declaration. The die was cast. After such a man- 
ifestation he couldn't back out. And I reflected 
that it was nothing whatever to me now. With a 
rush of black smoke belching suddenly out of the 
funnel, and a mad swirl of paddle-wheels provoking 
a burst of weird and precipitated clapping, the tug 
shot out of the desolate arena. The rocky islets 
lay on the sea like the heaps of a cyclopean ruin 
on a plain ; the centipedes and scorpions lurked un- 
der the stones ; there was not a single blade of grass 
[103] 



FALK 

In sight anywhere, not a single lizard sunning him' 
self on a boulder by the shore. When I looked 
again at Hermann's ship the girl had disappeared. 
1 could not detect the smallest dot of a bird on the 
immense sky, and the flatness of the land continued 
the flatness of the sea to the naked line of the hori- 
zon. 

This is the setting now inseparably connected 
with my knowledge of Falk's misfortune. My di- 
plomacy had brought me there, and now I had only 
to wait tlie time for taking up the role of an ambas- 
sador. My diplomacy was a success ; my ship was 
safe; old Gambril would probably live; a feeble 
sound of a tapping hammer came intermittently 
from the Diana. During the afternoon I looked 
at times at the old homely ship, the faithful nurse 
of Hermann's progeny, or yawned towards the dis- 
tant temple of Buddha, like a lonely hillock on the 
plain, wliere shaven priests cherish the thoughts of 
that Annihilation which is the worthy reward of us 
all. Unfortunate ! He had been unfortunate once. 
Well, that was not so bad as life goes. And what 
the devil could be the nature of that misfortune? 
J remembered that I had known a man before who 
[104] 






i 




FALK 

would be best to compose for myself a grave de- 
meanour. I practised this in my boat as I wont 
along, but the basbfulness that came secretly upon 
me the moment I stepped on the deck of the Diana 
is inexplicable. As soon as wc had exchanged 
greetings Hermann asked rae eagerly if I knew 
whether Falk had found his white parasol. 

"He's going to bring it to you himself directly," 
I said with great solemnity. " Meantime I am 
charged with an important message for which he 
begs your favourable consideration. He is in love 
with your niece. . . ." 

" Ach So! " he hissed with an animosity that 
made my assumed gravity change into the most 
genuine concern. What meant this tone? And I 
hurried on. 

" He wishes, with your consent of course, to ask 
her to marry him at once — before you leave here, 
that is. He would speak to the Consul." 

Hermann sat down and smoked violently- Five 
minutes passed in that furious meditation, and 
then, taking the long pipe out of his mouth, he 
burst into a hot diatribe against Falk — against his 
cupidity, his stupidity (a fellow that can hardly 

[106] 



FALK 

be got to say " yes " or " no " to the simplest ques- 
tion )— against his outrageous treatment of the 
shipping in port {because he saw they were at his 
mercy) — and against his manner of walking, 
which to his (Hermann's) mind showed a conceit 
positively unbearable. The damage to the old 
Diana was not forgotten, of course, and there was 
nothing of any nature said or done by Falk (even 
to the la«t offer of refreshment in the hotel) that 
did not seem to have been a cause of offence. 
"Had the cheek" to drag him (Hermann) into 
that coffee-room ; as though a drink from him could 
make up for forty-seven dollars and fifty cents of 
damage in the cost of wood alonc^not counting 
two days' work for the carpenter. Of course he 
would not stand in the girl's way. He was going 
home to Germany. There were plenty of poor 
girls walking about in Germany. 

" He's very much in love," was all I found to 
say. 

" Yes," he cried. " And it is time too after mak- 
ing himself and me talked about ashore tlie last 
voyage I was here, and then now again ; coming on 
[107] 



FALK 

board every evening unsettling the girl's mind, ai 

saying nothing. What sort of conduct is that? " 

The seven thousand dollars the fellow was always 
talking about did not, in his opinion, justify such 
behaviour. Moreover, nobody liad seen them. He 
(Hermann) seriously doubted if there were seven 
thousand cents, and the tug, no doubt, was mort- 
gaged up to the top of the funnel to the firm of 
Siegers. But let that pass. He wouldn't stand in 
the girl's way. Her head was so turned that she 
had become no good to them of late. Quite unable 
even to put the children to bed without her aunt. 
It was bad for the children ; they got unruly ; and 
yesterday he actually had to give Gustav a thrash- 
ing. 

For that, too, Falk was made responsible ap- 
parently. And looking at my Hermann's heavy, 
puffy, good-natured face, I knew he would not ex- 
ert himself till greatly exasperated, and, therefore, 
would thrash very hard, and being fat would resent 
the necessity. How Falk had managed to turn the 
girl's head was more difficult to understand. I sup- 
posed Hermann would know. And then hadn't 
there been Miss Vanlo? It could not be his silvery 
[108] 



a, and 



FALK 

tongue, or the subtle seduction of his manner; he 
had no more of what is called " manner " than an 
animal — which, however, on the other hand, is 
never, and can never be called vulgar. Therefore 
it must have been his bodily appearance, exhibiting 
a virility of nature as exaggerated as his beard, and 
resembling a sort of constant ruthlessness. It was 
seen in the very manner he lolled in the chair. He 
meant no offence, but his intercourse was charac- 
terised by that sort of frank disregard of suscepti- 
bilities a man of seven foot six, living in a world of 
dwarfs, would naturally assume, without in the 
least wishing to be unkind. But amongst men of 
his own stature, or nf-prly. this frank use of his ad- 
vantages, in such matters as the awful towage bills 
for instance, caused much impotent gnashing of 
teeth. When attentively considered it seemed ap- 
palling at times. He was a strange beast. But 
maybe women liked it. Seen in that light he was 
well worth taming, and I suppose every woman at 
the bottom of her heart considers herself as a tamer 
of strange beasts. But Hermann arose with pre- 
cipitation to carry the news to his wife, I had 
barely the time, as he made for the cabin door, to 
[109] 



FALK 

grab him b^ the seat of his inexpressibles. 1 
begged him to wait till Falk in person had spoken 
with him. There remained some small matter to 
talk over, as I understood. 

He sat down again at once, full of suspicion, 

" What matter? " he said surlily. " I liave had 
enough of his nonsense. There's no matter at all, 
as he knows very well; the girl has nothing in the 
world. She came to us in one thin dress when my 
brother died, and I have a growing family." 

" It can't be anything of that kind," I opined. 
" He's desperately enamoured of your niece. I 
don't know why he did not siiy so before. Upon 
my word, I believe it is because he was afraid to 
lose, perhaps, the felicity of sitting near Iicr on 
your quarter deck." 

I intimated my conviction that his love was so 
great as to be in a sense cowardly. The effects of 
a great passion are unaccountable. It has been 
known to make a man timid. But Hermann looked 
at me as if I had foolishly raved ; and the twilight 
was dying out rapidly. 

" You don't believe in passion, do you, Her- 
mann? " I said cheerily. " The passion of fear will 
[110] 




make a cornered rat courageous, Falk's in a cor- 
ner. . He will take her off your hands in one thin 
frock j ust as she came to you. And after ten years' 
service it isn't a bad bargain," I added. 

Far froni taking offence, he resumed his air of 
civic virtue. The sudden night came upon him 
while he stared placidly along the deck, bringing 
in contact with his thick lips, and taking away 
again after a jet of smoke, the curved mouthpiece 
fitted to the stem of his pipe. The night came 
upon him and buried in haste his whiskers, his glob- 
ular eyes, his puffy pale face, his fat knees and the 
vast flat slippers on his fatherly feet. Only his 
short arms in respectable white shirt-sleeves re- 
mained very visible, propped up hke the fiippers of 
a seal reposing on the strand. 

" Palk wouldn't settle anything about repairs. 
Told me to find out first how much wood I should 
require and be would see," he remarked ; and after 
he had spat peacefully in the dusk we heard over 
the water the beat of the tug's floats. There is, on 
a calm night, nothing more suggestive of fierce and 
headlong haste than the rapid sound made by the 
paddle-wheels of a boat threshing her way through 

[111] 



TALK 

a quiet sea ; and the approach of Falk towards hU 
fate seemed to be urged by an impatient and pas- 
sionate desire. The engines must have been driven 
to the very utmost of their revolutions. We heard 
them slow down at last, and, vaguely, the white 
hull of the tug appeared moving against the black 
islets, whilst a slow and rhythmical clapping as of 
thousands of hands rose on all sides. It ceased all 
at once, just before Falk brought her up. A sin- 
gle brusque splash was followed by the long drawn 
rumbling of iron links running through the hawse 
pipe. Then a solemn silence fell upon the Road- 
stead. 

" He will soon be here," I murmured, and after 
that we waited for him without a word. Meantime, 
raising my eyes, I beheld the glitter of a lofty sky 
above the Diana'g mastheads. The multitude of 
stars gathered into clusters, in rows, in lines, in 
masses, in groups, shone all together, unanimously 
— and the few isolated ones, blazing by themselves 
in the midst of dark patches, seemed to be of a su- 
perior kind and of an inextinguishable nature. But 
long striding footsteps were heard hastening along 
the deck; the high bulwarks of the Diana made a 
[112] 



deeper darkness. We rose from our chairs quickly, 
and Falk, appearing before us, all in white, stood 
still. 

Nobody spoke at first, as though we had been 
covered with confusion. His arrival was fiery, but 
his white bulk, of indefinite shape and without fea- 
tures, made him loom up like a man of snow. 

" The captain here has been telling me . . ." 
Hermann began in a homely and amicable voice; 
and Falk had a low, nervous laugh. His cool, neg- 
ligent undertone had no inflexions, but the strength 
of a powerful emotion made him ramble in his 
speech. He had always desired a home. It was 
difficult to live alone, though he was not answera- 
ble. He was domestic; there had been difiiculties; 
but since he had seen Hermann's niece he found 
that it had become at last impossible to live by him- 
self. " I mean — impossible," he repeated with no 
sort of emphasis and only with the slightest of 
pauses, but the word fell into my mind with the 
force of a new idea. 

" I have not said anything to her yet," Hermann 

observed quietly. And Falk dismissed this by a 

" That's all right. Certainly. Very proper." 

[113] 



TALK 

There was a necessity for perfect frankness — in 
marrying, especially. Hermann seemed attentive, 
but he seized the first opportunity to ask us into the 
cabin. " And by-the-by, Falk," he said innocent- 
ly, as we passed in, " the timber came to no leas 
than forty-seven dollars and fifty cents." 

Falk, uncovering his head, lingered in the pas- 
sage. " Some other time," he said ; and Hermann 
nudged me angrily — I don't know why. The girl 
alone in the cabin sat sewing at some distance from 
the table. Falk stopped abort in tlie doorway. 
Without a word, without a sign, without the slight- 
est inclination of his bony head, by the silent in- 
tensity of his look alone, he seemed to lay his her- 
culean frame at her feet. Her hands sank slowly 
on her lap, and raising her clear eyes, she let her 
soft, beaming glance enfold him from head to foot 
like a slow and pale caress. He was very hot when 
he sat down ; she, with bowed head, went on with 
her sewing ; her neck was very white under the light 
of the lamp ; but Falk, hiding his face in the palms 
of his hands, shuddered faintly. He drew them 
down, even to his beard, and his uncovered eyes as- 
tonished me by their tense and irrational expres- 

[11*] 



FALK 

sion — as though he had just swallowed a heavy 
gulp of alcohol. It passed away while he was 
binding us to secrecy. Not that he cared, but lie 
did not like to be spoken about ; and I looked at the 
girl's marvellous, at her wonderful, at her regal 
hair, plaited tight into that one astonishing and 
maidenly tress. Whenever she moved her well- 
shaped head it would stir stiffly to and fro on her 
back. The thin cotton sleeve fitted the irreproach- 
able roundness of her arm like a skin ; and her very 
dress, stretched on her bust, seemed to palpitate 
like a living tissue with the strength of vitality ani- 
mating her body. How good her complexion was, 
the outline of her soft cheek and the small convo- 
luted conch of her rosy ear ! To pull her needle she 
kept the little finger apart from the others; it 
seemed a waste of power to see her sewing — eter- 
nally sewing — with that industrious and precise 
movement of her arm, going on eternally upon all 
the oceans, under all the skies, in innumerable har- 
bours. And suddenly I heard Falk'a voice declare 
that he could not marry a woman unless she knew 
of something in his life that had happened ten ' 
years ago. It was an accident. An unfortunate ac- 
[115] 



FALK 

cident. It would affect the domestic arrangements 
of their home, but, once told, it need not be alluded 
to again for the rest of their lives, " I should want 
my wife to feel for me," he said, " It has made me 
unhappy." And how could he keep the knowledge 
of it to himself — he asked us — perhaps through 
years and years of companionship P What sort of 
companionship would that be? He had thought it 
over. A wife must know. Then why not at once? 
He counted on Hermann's kindness for presenting 
the affair in the best possible light. And Her- 
mann's countenance, mystified before, became very 
sour. He stole an inquisitive glance at me. I 
shook my head blankly. Some people thought, 
Falk went on, that such an experience changed a 
man for the rest of His bfe. He couldn't say. It 
was hard, awful, and not to be forgotten, but he 
did not think himself a worse man than before. 
Only he talked in his sleep now, he believed. . . . 
At last I began to think he had accidentally killed 
some one; perhaps a friend — his own father may- 
be ; when he went on to say that probably we were 
aware he never touched meat. Throughout he 
spoke English, of course on my account. 
[116] 



FALK 

He swayed forward heavily. 

The girl, with her hands raised before her pale 
eyes, was threading her needle. He glanced at her, 
and his mighty trunk overshadowed the table, 
bringing nearer to ua tlie breadth of his shoulders, 
the thickness of his neck, and that incongruous, an- 
cliorite head, burnt in the desert, hollowed and lean 
as if by excesses of vigils and fasting. His beard 
flowed imposingly downwards, out of sight, be- 
tween the two brown hands gripping the edge of 
the table, and his persistent glance made sombre by 
the wide dilations of the pupils, fascinated. 

" Imagine to yourselves," he said in his ordinary 
voice, " that I have eaten man." 

I could only ejaculate a faint "Ah!" of com- 
plete enlightenment. But Hermann, dazed by the 
excessive shock, actually murmured, " Himmel ! 
What for? " 

" It was my terrible misfortune to do so," said 
Falk in a measured undertone. The girl, uncon- 
scious, sewed on. Mrs. Hermann was absent in 
one of the state-rooms, sitting up with Lena, who 
was feverish; but Hermann suddenly put both his 
hands up with a jerk. The embroidered calotte 
[117] 



FALK 

fell, and, in the twinkling of an eye, he had rum- 
pled his hair all ends up in a most extravagant 
manner. In this state he strove to speak; with 
every effort his eyes seemed to start furtlier out of 
their sockets ; his liead looked like a mop. He 
choked, gasped, swallowed, and managed to shriek 
out the one word, " Beast ! " 

From that moment till Falk went out of the cab- 
in the girl, with her hands folded on the work lying 
in her lap, never took her eyes off him. His own, 
in the blindness of his heart, darted all over the 
cabin, only seeking to avoid the sight of Hermann's 
raving. It was ridiculous, and was made almost 
terrible by the stillness of every other person pres- 
ent. It was contemptible, and was made appalling 
by the man's overmastering horror of this awful 
sincerity, coming to him suddenly, with the confes- 
sion of such a fact. He walked with great strides ; 
he gasped. He wanted to know from Falk how 
dared he to come and tell him this? Did he think 
himself a proper person to be sitting in this cabin 
where his wife and children lived? Tell his niece! 
Expected him to tell his niece! His own brother's 
daughter ! Shameless ! Did I ever hear tell of such 
[118] 



FALK 

impudence? — he appealed to me. " This man here 
ought to have gone and hidden himself out of sight 
instead of . . ." 

" But it's a great misfortune for me. But it's a 
great misfortune for me," Falk would ejaculate 
from time to time. 

However, Hermann kept on running frequently 
against the corners of the table. At last he lost a 
slipper, and crossing his arms on hia breast, walked 
up with one stocking foot very close to Falk, in or- 
der to ask him whether he did think there was any- 
where on earth a woman abandoned enough to mate 
with such a monster. "Did heP Did ho? Did 
he? " I tried to restrain him. He tore himself out 
of my hands ; he found his slipper, and, endeavour- 
ing to put it on, stormed standing on one leg — 
and Palk, with a face unmoved and averted 
eyes, grasped all his mighty beard in one vast 
palm. 

" Was it right then for me to die myself? " he 
asked thoughtfully. I laid my hand on his shoul- 
der. 

" Go away," I whispered imperiously, without 

any clear reason for this advice, except that I 

[119] 



FALK 

wished to put an end to Hermann'a odious noise. 
" Go away." 

He looked searchingly for a moment at Hermann 
before he made a move. I left the cabin too to see 
him out of the ship. But he hung about the quar- 
ter-deck. 

" It is my misfortune," he said in a steady 

" You were stupid to blurt it out in such a man- 
ner. After all, we don't hear such confidences 
every day." 

" What does the man mean? " he mused in deep 
undertones. " Somebody had to die— but why 



He remained still for a time in the dark — silent ; 
almost invisible. All at once he pinned my elbows 
to my sides. I felt utterly powerless in his grip, 
and his voice, whispering in my ear, vibrated. 

" It's worse than hunger. Captain, do you know 
what that means? And I could kill then — or be 
killed. I wish the crowbar had smashed my skull 
ten years ago. And I've got to live now. Without 
her. Do you understand? Perhaps many years. 
But how? What can be done? If I had allowed 
[120] 



FALK 

myself to look at her once I would have carried her 
off before that man in my hands — like this." 

I felt myself snatclied off the dock, then suddenly 
dropped — and I staggered backwards, feeling 
bewildered and bruised. What a man! All was 
still ; he was gone. I heard Hermann's voice de- 
claiming in the cabin, and I went in. 

I eould not at first make out a single word, but 
Mrs. Hermann, who, attracted by the noise, had 
come in some time before, with an expression of 
surprise and mild disapproval depicted broadly on 
her face, was giving now all the signs of profound, 
helpless agitation. Her husband shot a string of 
guttural words at her, and instantly putting out 
one hand to the bulkhead as if to save herself from 
falling, she clutched the loose bosom of her dress 
with the other. He harangued the two women ex- 
traordinarily, with much of his shirt hanging out of 
his waistbelt, stamping bis foot, turning from one 
to the other, sometimes throwing both his arms to- 
gether, straight up above his rumpled hair, and 
keeping them in that position while he uttered a 
passage of loud denunciation ; at others folding 
them tight across his breast — and then he hissed 

[m] 



FALK 

with indignation, elevating his Bhouldcrs and pro- 
truding his head. The girl was crying. 

She had not changed her attitude. From her 
steady eyes that, following Falk in his retreat, had 
remained fixed wistfully on the cahin door, the 
tears fell rapid, thick, on her hands, on the work in 
her lap, warm and gentle like a shower in spring. 
She wept without grimacing, without noise — very 
touching, very quiet, with something more of pity 
than of pain in her face, as one weeps in compassion 
rather than in grief — and Hermann, before her, 
declaimed. I caught several times the word 
" Mensch," man ; and also " Fressen," which last I 
looked up afterwards in my dictionary. It means 
" Devour." Hermann seemed to be requesting an 
answer of some sort from her; his whole body 
swayed. She remained mute and perfectly still ; 
at last his agitiition gained her ; she put the palms 
of her hands together, her full lips parted, no 
sound came. His voice scolded shrilly, his arms 
went like a windmill — suddenly he shook a thick 
fist at her. She burst out into loud sobs. He 
seemed stupefied. 

Mrs. Hermann rushed forward babbling rap- 
[122] 




J 



FALK 

idly. The two women fell on each other's necks, 
and, with an arm round her niece's waist, she led her 
away. Her own eyes were simply streaming, her 
face was flooded. She shook her head back at me 
negatively, I wonder why to this day. The girl's 
head dropped heavily on her shoulder. They dis- 
appeared. 

Then Hermann sat down and stared at the cabin 
floor. 

" We don't know all the circumstances," I ven- 
tured to break the silence. He retorted tartly that 
he didn't want to know of any. According to his 
ideas no circumstances cotild excuse a crime — and 
certainly not such a crime. This was the opinion 
generally received. The duty of a human being 
was to starve. Falk therefore was a beast, an ani- 
mal; base, low, vile, despicable, shameless, and de- 
ceitful. He had been deceiving him since last year. 
He was, however, inclined to think that Falk must 
have gone mad quite recently; for no sane person, 
without necessity, uselessly, for no earthly reason, 
and regardless of another's self-respect and peace 
of mind, would own to having devoured human 
flesh. " Why tell.' " he cried. " Who was asking 
[IgS] 




FALK 

liim?" It showed Falk's brutality because after 
till lie had selfishly caused him (Hermann) much 
pain. He would have preferred not to know that 
such an unclean creature had been in the habit of 
caressing his children. He hoped I would say noth- 
ing of all this ashore, though. He wouldn't like it 
to get about that he had been intimate with an 
cater of men— a common cannibal. As to the scene 
he had made (which I judged quite unnecessary) 
he was not going to inconvenience and restrain 
himself for a fellow that went about courting and 
upsetting girls' heads, while he knew all the time 
that no decent housewifely girl could think of mar- 
rying him. At least he (Hermann) could not con- 
ceive how any girl could. Fancy Lena ! . . . No, 
it was impossible. The thoughts that would come 
into their heads every time they sat down to a meal. 
Horrible! Horrible! 

" You are too squeamish, Hermann," I said. 

He seemed to think it was eminently proper to be 
squeamish if the word meant disgust at Falk's con- 
duct; and turning up his eyes sentimentally he 
drew my attention to the horrible fate of the victims 
— the victims of that Falk. I said that I knew 
[IS*] 



FALK 

nothing about them. He seemed surprised. Could 
not anybody imagine without knowing? He — for 
instance — felt he would like to avenge them. But 
what if — said I — there had not heen any? They 
might have died as it were, naturally — of starva- 
tion. He shuddered. But to be eaten — after 
death ! To be devoured ! He gave another deep 
shudder, and asked suddenly, *' Do you think it 
is true ? " 

His indignation and his personality together 
would have been enough to spoil the reality of the 
most authentic thing. When I looked at him I 
doubted the story — but the remembrance of Falk's 
words, looks, gestures, invested it not only with 
an air of reality but with the absolute truth of 
primitive passion. 

" It is true just as much as you are able to make 
it; and exactly in the way you like to make it. For 
my part, when I hear you clamouring about it, I 
don't believe it is true at all." 

And I left him pondering. The men in my boat 
lying at the foot of Diana's side ladder told me that 
the captain of the tug had gone away in his gig 
some time ago. 

[185] 




FALK 

I let my fellows pull an easy stroke; because of 
the heavy dew the clear sparkle of the stars seemed 
to fall on me cold and wetting. There was a sense 
of lurking gruesome horror somewhere in my mind, 
and it was mingled with clear and grotesque 
images. Schoinberg's gastronomic tittle-tattle 
was responsible for these; and I half hoped I 
should never see Falk again. But the first thing 
my anchor-Wfttchman told me was that the captain 
of the tug was on board. He had sent his boat 
away and was now waiting for me in the cuddy. 

He was lying full length on the stern settee, his 
face buried in the cushions. I had expected to see 
it discomposed, contorted, despairing. It was 
nothing of the kind; it was just as I had seen it 
twenty times, steady and glaring from the bridge 
of the tug. It was immovably set and hungry, 
dominated like the whole man by the singleness of 
one instinct. 

He wanted to live. He had always wanted to 
live. So we all do — but in us the instinct serves a 
complex conception, and in him this instinct existed 
alone. There is in such simple development a gi- 
gantic force, and like the pathos of a child's naive 
[186] 



PALK 

and uncontrolled desire. He wanted that girl, and 

the utmost that can be said for him was that he 
wanted that particular girl alone. I think I saw 
then the obscure beginning, the seed germinating 
in the soil of an unconscious need, the first shoot 
of that tree bearing now for a mature mankind the 
flower and the fruit, the infinite gradation in 
shades and in flavour of our discriminating love. 
He was a child. He was as frank as a child too. 
He was hungry for the girl, terribly hungry, as - 
he had been terribly hungry for food. 

Don't be shocked if I declare that in mj belief 
it was the same need, the same pain, the same tor- 
ture. We are in his case allowed to contemplate 
the foundation of all the emotions — that one joy 
which is to live, and the one sadness at the root of 
the innumerable torments. It was made plain by 
the way he talked. He had never suffered so. It 
was gnawing, it was fire ; it was there, like this ! 
And after pointing below his breastbone, he made 
a hard wringing motion with his hands. And I as- 
sure you that, seen as I saw it with my bodily eyes, 
it was anything but laughable. And again, as he 
was presently to tell me (alluding to an early inci- 
[187] 



FALK 

dent of the disastrous voyage when some damaged 
meat had been flung overboard), he eaid that a 
time soon came when his heart ached {that was the 
expression ho used), and he was ready to tear his 
hair out at the thought of all that rotten beef 
thrown away. 

I had heard all this ; I witnessed his physical 
struggles, seeing the working of the rack and hear- 
ing the true voice of pain. I witnessed it all pa- 
tiently, because the moment I came into the cuddy 
he had called upon me to stand by him~and this, 
it seems, I had diplomatically promised. 

His agitation was impressive and alarming in 
the little cabin, Uke the floundering of a great 
whale driven into a shallow cove in a coast. He 
stood up : he flung himself down headlong ; he tried 
to tear the cushion with his teeth ; and again hug- 
ging it fiercely to his face he let himself fall on the 
couch. The whole ship seemed to feel the shock 
of his despair ; and I contemplated with wonder the 
l"fty f^rjvvidi the noble touch of time on the un- 
covered temples, the unchanged hungry character 
of the face — so strangely ascetic and 80 incapable 
of portraying emotion. 

[128] 



What should he do? He had lived by being 
near her. He had sat — in the evening — I knew? — 
all his life! She sewed. Her head was bent — so. 
Her head— like this — and her arms. Ah ! Had I 
seen? Like this. 

He dropped on a stool, bowed his powerful neck 
whose nape was red, and with his hands stitched 
the air, ludicrous, sublimely imbecile and compre- 
hensible. 

And now he couldn't have her? No! That was 
too much. After thinking too that . . . What 
had he done? What was my advice? Take her by 
force? No? Mustn't he? Who was there then 
to kill him ? For the first time I saw one of his fea- 
tures move ; a fighting teeth-baring curl of the lip. 
..." Not Hermann, perhaps." He lost himself 
in thought as though he had fallen out of the 
world. 

I may note that the idea of suicide apparently 
did not enter his head for a single moment. It oc- 
curred to me to ask : 

" Where was it that this shipwreck of yours took 
place ? " 

" Down south," he said vaguely with a start. 
[1S9] 



FALK 

" You are not down south now," I said. " Vio- 
lence won't do. They would take her away from 
you in no time. And what was the name of the 
ship ? " 

" BoTgmester Dahl," he said. "It was no ship- 
wreck," 

He seemed to be waking up by degrees from that 
trance, and waking up calmed. 

" Not a shipwreck? What was it? " 

" Break down," he answered, looking more like 
himself every moment. By this only I learned that 
it was a steamer. I liad till then supposed they 
had been starving in boats or on a raft — or per- 
haps on a barren rock. 

"She did not sink then?" I asked in surprise. 
He nodded. " Wc sighted the southern ice," he 
pronounced dreamily. 

" And you alone survived? " 

He sat down. " Yes. It was a terrible misfor- 
tune for me. Everything went wrong. All the 
men went wrong. I survived." 

Remembering the things one reads of it was diffi- 
cult to realise the true meaning of his answers, I 
ought to have seen at once — but I did not ; so diffi- 
[130] 



' 



PALK 
cult is it for our minds, remembering so much, in- 
structed so much, informed of so much, to get in 
toucli with tlie real actuality at our elbow. And 
with my head full of preconceived notions as to 
how a case of " cannibalism and suffering at sea " 
should be managed I said — " You were then so 
lucky in the drawing of lots? " 

" Drawing of lots? " he said. " What lots? Do 
you think I would have allowed my life to go for 
the drawing of lots? " 

Not if he could help it, I perceived, no matter 
what other life went. 

" It was a great misfortune. Terrible. Awful," 
he said. " Many heads went wrong, but the best 
men would live," 

" The toughest, you mean," I said. He consid- 
ered the word. Perhaps it was strange to him, 
though his English was so good. 

" Yes," he asserted at last. " The best. It was 
everybody for himself at last and the ship open to 
aU." 

Thus from question to question I got the whole 

story. I fancy it was the only way I could that 

night have stood by him. Outwardly at least he 

[131] 



FALK 

was himself again ; the first sign of it was the re- 
turn of that incongruous trick he had of drawing 
both his hands down his face— and it had its mean- 
ing now, with that shght shudder of the frame and 
the passionate anguish of these hands uncovering 
a hungry immovable face, the wide pupils of the 
Intent, silent, fascinating eyes. 

It was an iron steamer of a most respectable ori- 
gin. The burgomaster of Falk's native town had 
built her. She was tlie first steamer ever launched 
there. The burgomaster's daughter had christened 
her. Country people drove in carts from miles 
around to see her. He told me all this. He got the 
berth as what we should call a chief mate. He 
seemed to think it had been a feather in his cap; 
and, in his own comer of the world, this lover of 
life was of good parentage. 

The burgomaster had advanced ideas in the 
ship-owning line. At that time not every one 
would have known enough to think of despatching 
a cargo steamer to the Pacific. But he loaded her 
with pitch-pine deals and sent her off to hunt for 
her luck. Wellington was to be the first port, I 
fancy. It doesn't matter, because in latitude 4-^° 
[138] 



PALK 

south and somewhere halfway between Good Hope 
and New Zealand the tail shaft broke and the pro- 
peller dropped off. 

They were steaming then with a fresh gale on 
the quarter and all tlieir canvas set, to help the en- 
gines. But by itself the sail power was not enough 
to keep way on her. When the propeller went the 
ship broached-to at once, and the masts got 
whipped overboard. 

The disadvantage of being dismasted consisted ^ 
in this, that they had nothing to hoist Hags on to 
make themselves visible at a distance. In the 
course of the first few days several ships failed to 
sight them ; and the gale was drifting them out of 
the usual track. The voyage had been, from the 
first, neither very successful nor very harmonious. 
There had been quarrels on board. The captain 
was a clever, melancholic man, who had no unusual 
grip on his crew. The ship had been amply pro- 
visioned for the passage, but, somehow or other, 
several barrels of meat were found spoiled on open- 
ing, and had been thrown overboard soon after 
leaving home, as a sanitary measure. Afterwards 
the crew of the Borgmeater Dahl thought of that 
[183] 



FALK 

rotten carrion with tears of regret, covetousness 
and despair. 

She drove south. To begin with, there had been 
an appearance of organisation, but soon the bonds 
of discipline became relaxed. A sombre idleness 
succeeded. They looked with sullen eyes at the hori- 
zon. The gales increased: she lay in the trough, 
the seas made a clean breacli over her. On one 
frightful night, when they expected their hulk to 
turn over with them every moment, a heavy sea 
broke on board, deluged the store-rooms and spoiled 
the best part of the remaining provisions. It seems 
the hatch had not been properly secured. This in- 
stance of neglect is characteristic of utter discour- 
agement. Falk tried to inspire some energy into 
his captain, but failed. From tliat time he retired 
more into himself, always trying to do his utmost 
in the situation. It grew worse. Gale succeeded 
gale, with black mountains of water hurling them- 
selves on the Borgmester Dahl. Some of the men 
never left their bunks ; many became quarrelsome. 
The chief engineer, an old man, refused to speak 
at all to anybody. Others shut themselves up in 
their berths to cry. On calm days the inert steamer 
[134] 



FALK 

rolled on a leaden sea under a murky sky, or 
showed, in sunshine, the squalor of sea waifs, the 
dried white salt, the rust, the jagged broken 
places. Then the gales came again. They kept 
body and soul together on short rations. Once, an 
English ship, scudding in a storm, tried to stand 
by them, heaving-to pluckily under their lee. The 
seas swept her decks ; the men in oilskins clinging 
to her rigging looked at them, and they made des- 
perate signs over their shattered bulwarks. Sud- 
denly her main-topsail went, yard and all, in a ter- 
rific squall; she had to bear up under bare poles, 
and disappeared. 

Other ships had spoken them before, but at first 
they had refused to be taken off, expecting the as- 
sistance of some steamer. There were very few 
steamers in those latitudes then ; and when they 
desired to leave this dead and drifting carcase, no 
ship came in sight. They had drifted south out of 
men's knowledge. They failed to attract the atten- 
tion of a lonely whaler, and very soon the edge of 
the polar ice-cap rose from the sea and closed the 
souUiern horizon like a wall. One morning they 
were alarmed by finding themselves floating 
[135] 



PALK 

amongst detached picres of ice. But the fear of 
sinking passed away like their vigour, like their 
hopes; the shocks of the floes knocking against the 
ship's side could not rouse them from their apathy : 
and the Borgmester Dakl drifted out again un- 
banned into open water. They hardly noticed 
the change. 

The funnel had gone overboard in one of the 
heavy rolls; two of their three boats had disap- 
peared, washed away in bad weather, and the davits 
swung to and fro, unsecured, with chafed rope's 
ends waggling to the roll. Nothing was done on 
board, and Falk told me how he had often listened 
to the water washing about the dark engine-room 
where the engines, stilled for ever, were decaying 
slowly into a mass of rust, as the stilled heart de- 
cays within the lifeless body. At first, after the 
loss of the motive power, the tiller had been thor- 
oughly secured by lashings. But in course of time 
these had rotted, chafed, rusted, parting one by 
one : and the rudder, freed, banged heavily to and 
fro night and day, sending dull shocks through the 
whole frame of the vessel. This was dangerous. 
Nobody cared enough to lift a little finger. He 
[136] 



TALK 

told me that even now sometimes waking up at 
night, he fancied he could hear the dull vihrating 
thuds. The pintles carried away, and it dropped 
off at last. 

The final catastrophe came with the sending off 
of their one remaining boat. It was Falk who had 
managed to preserve her intact, and now it was 
agreed that some of the hands should sail away into 
the track of the shipping to procure assistance. 
She was provisioned with all the food they oouM 
spare for the six who were to go. They waited for 
a fine day. It was long in poming. At last one 
morning they lowered her into the water. 

Directly, in that demoralised •rowd, trouble 
broke out. Two men who had no business there 
had jumped into the boat under the pretence of 
unhooking the tackles, while some sort of squabble 
arose on the deck amongst these weak, tottering 
spectres of a ship's company. Tlie captain, who 
had been for days living secluded and unapproach- 
able in the chart-room, came to the rail. He or- 
dered the two men to come up on board and men- 
aced them with his revolver. They pretended to 
obey, but suddenly cutting the boat's painter, gave 
[197] 



FALK 

a shove against the ship's side and made ready to 
hoist the sail. 

" Shoot, sir ! Shoot them down ! " cried Falk — 
" and I will jump overboard to regain the boat." 
But the captain, after taking aim with an irreso- 
lute arm, turned suddenly away. 

A howl of rage arose. Falk dashed into his cabin 
for his own pistol. Wlien he returned it was too 
late. Two more men had leaped into the water, but 
the fellows in the boat beat them off with the oars, 
hoisted the boat's lug and sailed away. They were 
never heard of again. 

Consternation and despair possessed the remain- 
ing ship's company, till the apathy of utter hope- 
lessness re-asserted its sway. That day a fireman 
committed suicide, running up on deck with his 
throat cut from ear to ear, to tlie horror of all 
hands. He was thrown overboard. The captain 
had locked himself in the chart-room, and Falk, 
knocking vainly for admittance, heard him recit- 
ing over and over again the names of his wife and 
children, not as if calling upon them or commend- 
ing them to God, but in a mechanical voice like an 
exercise of memory. Next day the doors of the 



I. 



[138] 




TALK 

chart-room were swinging optn to tiie roll of the 
ship, and the captain had disappeared. He must 
dviring the night have jumped into the sea. Faik 
locked both the doors and kept the keys. 

The organised life of the ship had come to an 
end. The solidarity of the men had gone. They 
became indifferent to each other. It was Falk who 
took in hand the distribution of such food as re- 
mained. They boiled their boots for soup to eke 
out the rations, whicli only made their hunger more 
intolerable. Sometimes whispers of hate were 
heard passing between the languid skeletons that 
drifted endlessly to and fro, north and south, east 
and west, upon that carcase of a ship. 

And in this lies the grotesque horror of this som- 
bre story. The last extremity of sailors, overtaking 
a small boat or a frail craft, seems easier to bear, 
because of the direct danger of the seas. The con- 
fined space, the close contact, the imminent menace 
of the waves, seem to draw men together, in spite 
of madness, suffering and despair. But tliere was 
a ship — safe, convenient, roomy : a ship with beds, 
bedding, knives, forks, comfortable cabins, glass 
and china, and a complete cook's galley, pervaded, 
[139] 



FALK 

ruled and possessed bj the pitiless spectre of Btar- 
vation. The lamp oil had been drunk, the wicks 
cut up for food, the candles eaten. At night she 
floated dark in all her recesses, and full of fears. 
One day Falk came Upon a man gnawing a splinter 
of pine wood. Suddenly he threw the piece of wood 
away, tottered to the rail, and fell over. Falk, too 
late to prevent the act, saw him claw the ship's 
side desperately before he went down. Nest day 
another man did the same thing, after uttering hor- 
rible imprecations. But this one somehow man- 
aged to get hold of the broken rudder chains and 
hung on there, silently. Falk set about trying to 
save him, and all the time the man, holding with 
both hands, looked at him anxiously with his sunken 
eyes. Then, just as Falk was ready to put his hand 
on him, the man let go his hold and sank like a 
stone. Falk reflected on these sights. His heart 
revolted against the horror of death, and he said 
to himself that he would struggle for every pre- 
cious minute of his life. 

One afternoon — as the survivors lay about on 

the after deck — the carpenter, a tall man with a 

black beard, spoke of the last sacrifice. There was 

[UO] 



FALK 

nothing eatable left on board. Nobody said a 
word to this ; but that company separated quickly, 
these listless feeble spectres slunk off one by one 
to hide in fear of each other. Falk and the car- 
penter remained on deck together. Falk liked 
the big carpenter. He had been the best man of 
the lot, helpful and ready as long as there was 
anything to do, the longest hopeful, and had 
preserved to the last some vigour and decision of 
mind. 

They did not speak to each other. Henceforth 
no voices were to be heard conversing sadly on 
board that ship. After a time the carpenter tot- 
tered away forward; but later on, Falk going to 
drink at the fresh-water pump, had the inspiration 
to turn his head. The carpenter had stolen upon 
him from behind,' and, summoning all his strength, 
was aiming with a crowbar a blow at the back of 
his skull. 

Dodging just in time, Falk made liis escape and 
ran into bis cabin. While he was loading his re- 
volver there, he heard the sound of heavy blows 
struck upon the bridge. Tlie locks of the chart- 
room doors were slight, they flew open, and the car- 

[i«] 



FALK 

penter, posseSBing himself of the captain's revolver, 
fired a shot of defiance. 

Falk was about to go on deck and have it out 
at once, when he remarked that one of the ports of 
his cabin commanded the approaches to the fresh- 
water pump. Instead of going out he remained in 
and secured the door. " The best man shall sur- 
vive," he said to himself — and the other, he rea- 
soned, must at some time or other come there to 
drink. These starving men would drink often to 
cheat the pangs of their hunger. But the carpen- 
ter too must have noticed the position of the port. 
They were the two best men in the ship, and the 
game was with them. All the rest of the day Falk 
flaw no one and heard no sound. At night he 
strained his eyes. It was dark- — he heard a rustling 
noise once, but he was certain that no one could 
have come near the pump. It was to the left of his 
deck port, and he could not have failed to see a 
man, for the night was clear and starry. He saw 
nothing; towards morning another faint noise 
made him suspicious. Deliberately and quietly he 
unlocked his door. He had not slept, and had not 
[142] 



given way to the horror of the situation. He 
wanted to live. 

But during the night the carpenter, without at 
all trying to approach the pump, had managed to 
creep quietly along the starboard bulwark, and, 
unseen, had crouched down right under Falk's deck 
port. When daylight came he rose up suddenly, 
looked in, and putting his arm through the round 
brass framed opening, fired at Falk within a foot. 
He missed — and Falk, instead of attempting to 
seize the arm holding the weapon, opened his door 
unexpectedly, and with the muzzle of his long re- 
volver nearly touching the other's side, shot him 
dead. 

The best man had survived. Both of them had 
at the beginning just strength enough to stand on 
their feet, and both had displayed pitiless resolu- * 
tion, endurance, cunning and courage — all the 
qualities of classic heroism. At once Falk threw 
overboard the captain's revolver. He was a born 
monopolist. Then after the report of the two 
shots, followed by a profound silence, there crept 
out into the cold, cruel dawn of Antarctic regions, 
[148] 



FALK 

from various hiding-places, over the deck of that 
dismantled corpse of a sliip floating on a grey sea 
ruled by iron necessity and with a heart of ice — 
there crept into view one by one, cautious, slow, ea- 
ger, glaring, and unclean, a band of hungry and 
livid skeletons. Falk faced them, the possessor of 
the only fire-arm on board, and the second best man 
— the carpenter — was lying dead between him and 
them. 

" He was eaten, of course," I said. 

He bent his head slowly, shuddered a little, draw- 
ing his hands over his face, and said, " I had never 
any quarrel with that man. But there were our 
lives between him and me." 

Why continue the story of that ship, that story 
before which, with its fresh-water pump like a 
spring of death, its man with the weapon, the sea 
ruled by iron necessity, its spectral band swayed by 
terror and hope, its mute and unhearing heaven? — 
the fable of the Flying Dutchman with its conven- 
tion of crime and its sentimental retribution fades 
like a graceful wreath, like a wisp of white mist. 
What is there to say that every one of us cannot 
guess for himself? I believe Falk began by going 
[141] 



FALK 

through the ship, revolver in hand, to annex all the 
matches. Those starving wretches had plenty of 
matches ! He had no mind to have the ship set on 
fire under his feet, either from hate or from despair. 
He lived in the open, camping on the bridge, com- 
manding all the after deck and the only approach 
to the pump. He lived ! Some of the others lived 
too — concealed, anxious, coming out one by one 
from their hiding-places at the seductive sound of 
a shot. And he was not selfish. They shared, but 
only three of them all were alive when a whaler, re- 
turning from her cruising ground, nearly ran over 
the water-logged hull of the Borgmester Dahl, 
which, it seems, in the end had in some way sprung 
a leak in both her holds, but being loaded with deals 
could not sink. 

" They all died," Falk said, " These three too, 
afterwards. But I would not die. All died, all! 
under this terrible misfortune. But was I too to 
throw away my life? Could I.' Tell me, captain? 
I was alone there, quite alone, just like the others. 
Fach man was alone. Was I to give up my re- 
volver? Who to? Or was I to throw It into the 
sea? What would have been the good? Only the 
[U6] 




FALK 

best man would survive. It was a great, terrible, 
and cruel misfortune." 

He had survived ! I saw him before me as 
though preserved for a witness to the mighty truth 
of an unerring and eternal principle. Great beads 
of perspiration stood on his forehead. And sud- 
denly it struck the table with a heavy blow, as he 
fell forward throwing his hands out. 

" And this is worse," he cried. " This is a worse 
pain! This is more terrible." 

He made my heart thump with the profound con- 
viction of his cries. And after he had left me 
alone I called up before my mental eye the image 
of the girl weeping silently, abundantly, patiently, 
and as if irresistibly. I thought of her tawny 
hair. I thought how, if unplaited, it would have 
covered her all round as low as the hips, like the 
hair of a siren. And she had bewitched him. Fancy 
a man who would guard his own life with the in- 
flexibility of a pitiless and immovable fate, being 
brought to lament that once a crowbar had missed 
his skull! The sirens sing and lure to death, but 
this one had been weeping silently as if for the pity 
of his life. She was the tender and voiceless siren 
[146] 



FALK 

of this appalling navigator. He evidently wanted 
to live his whole conception of life. Nothing else 
would do. And she too was a servant of that life 
tliat, in the midst of death, cries aloud to our senses. 
She was eminently fitted to interpret for him its 
feminine side. And in her own way, and with hei 
own profusion of sensuous charms, she also seemed 
to illustrate the eternal truth of an unerring prin- 
ciple, I don't know though what sort of principle 
Hermann illustrated when he turned up early on 
board my ship with a most perplexed air. It 
struck me, however, that he too would do his best 
to survive. He seemed greatly calmed on the sub- 
ject of Falk, but still very fuU of it. 

" What is it you said I was last night? You 
know," he asked after some preliminary talk. 
" Too — too — I don't know. A very funny word." 

"Squeamish?" I suggested. 

" Yes. What docs it mean ? " 

" That you exaggerate things — to yourself. 
Without inquiry, and so on." 

He seemed to turn it over in his mind. We went 
on talking. This Falk was the plague of his life. 
Upsetting everybody like this! Mrs. Hermann 
[147] 



FALK 

was unwell rather this morning. His niece was 
crying still. There was nobody to look after the 
children. He struck his umbrella on the deck. She 
would be like that for months. Fancy carrying all 
the way home, second class, a perfectly useless girl 
who is crying all the time. It was bad for Lena 
too, he observed ; but on what grounds I could not 
guess. Perhaps of the bad example. That child 
was already sorrowing and crying enough over the 
rag doll. Nicholas was really the least eentimental 
person of the family. 

" Why does she weep? " I asked. 

" From pity," cried Hermann. 

It was impossible to make out women, Mrs. Her- 
mann was the only one he pretended to understand. 
She was very, very upset and doubtful. 

" Doubtful about what,'' " I asked. 

He averted his eyes and did not answer this. It 
was impossible to make them out. For instance, 
his niece was weeping for Falk. Now he (Her- 
mann) would like to wring his neck — but then . . . 
He supposed he had too tender a heart. " Frank- 
ly," he asked at last, " what do you think of what 
we heard last night, captain? " 
[148] 



PALK 

" In all tliese tales," I observed, " there is always 
a good deal of exaggeration." 

And not letting him recover from his Burprise I 
assured him that I knew all the details. He begged 
me not to repeat them. His heart was too tender. 
They made him feel unwell. Then, looking at his 
feet and speaking very slowly, he supposed that he 
need not see much of them after they were married. 
For, indeed, he could not bear the sight of Falk. 
On the other hand it was ridiculous to take home a 
girl with her head turned, A girl that weeps all 
the time and is of no help to her aunt. 

" Now you will be able to do with one cabin only 
on your passage home," I said. 

*' Yes, I had thought of that," he said brightly, 
almost. " Yes ! Himself, his wife, four children 
— one cabin might do. Whereas if his niece 
went ..." 

"And what does Mrs. Hermann say to it?" I 
inquired. 

Mrs. Hermann did not know whether a man of 
that sort could make a girl happy— she had been 
greatly deceived in Captain Falk. She had been 
very upset last niglit. 

tU9] 



PALK 

Those good people did not seem to be able to re- 
tain an impression for a whole twelve hours. I 
assured him on my own personal knowledge that 
Fatk possessed in himself all the qualities to make 
his niece's future prosperous. He said he was glad 
to hear this, and that he would tell his wife. Then 
the object of the visit came out. He wislied me to 
help him to resume relations with Falk. His niece, 
he said, had expressed the hope I would du so in my 
kindness. He was evidently anxious that I should, 
for though he seemed to have forgotten nine-tenths 
of his last night's opinions and the whole of his in- 
dignation, yet lie evidently feared to be sent to the 
right-about. " You told me he was very much in 
love," he concluded slyly, and leered in a sort of bu- 
colic way. 

" As soon as he had left my ship I called Falk on 
board by signal — the tug still lying at the anchor- 
age. He took the news with calm gravity, as 
though he had all along expected the stars to fight 
for him in their courses. 

I saw them once more together, and only once — 
on the quarter-deck of the Diana. Hermann sat 
smoking with a shirt-sleeved elbow hooked over the 
[150] 



FALK 

back of his chair. Mrs. Hermann was sewing 
alone. As Falk stepped over the gangway, Her- 
mann's niece, with a slight swish of the skirt and a 
swift friendly nod to me, glided past ray chair. 

They met in sunshine abreast of tlie mainmast. 
He held her hands and looked down at them, and 
she looked up at liim with her candid and unseeing 
glance. It seemed to me they had come together 
as if attracted, drawn and guided to each other by 
a mysterious influence. They were a complete 
couple. In her grey frock, palpitating with life, 
generous of form, olympian and simple, she was in- 
deed the siren to fascinate that dark navigator, this 
ruthless lover of the five senses. From afar I 
seemed to feel the masculine strength with which 
he grasped those hands she had extended to him 
with a womanly swiftness. Lena, a little pale, 
nursing her beloved lump of dirty rags, ran to- 
wards her big friend; and then in the drowsy si- 
lence of the good old ship Mrs. Hennann's voice 
rang out so changed that it made nie spin round in 
my chair to see wliat was the matter. 

" Lena, come here ! " she screamed. And this 

good-natured matron gave me a wavering glance, 

[161] 



TALK 

dark and full of feareome distrust. The child ran 
back, surprised, to her knee. But the two, stand- 
ing before each other in sunlight with clasped 
hands, had heard nothing, had seen nothing and 
no one. Three feet awaj from them in the shade 
a seaman sat on a spar, very busy splicing a strop, 
and dipping his fingers into a tar-pot, as if utterly 
unaware of their existence. 

When I returned in command of another ship, 
some five years afterwards, Mr. and Mrs. Falk 
had left the place. I should not wonder if Schom- 
berg's tongue had succeeded at last in scaring Falk 
away for good ; and, indubitably, there was a tale 
still going about the town of a certain Falk, owner 
of a tug, who had won his wife at cards from the 
captain of an English ship. 



[168] 



AMY FOSTER 



AMY FOSTER 

Kennedy is a country doctor, and lives in Cole- 
brook, on the shores of Eastbay. The high 
ground rising abruptly behind the red roofs of the 
little town crowds the quaint High Street against 
the wall which defends it from the sea. Beyond 
the sea-wall there curves for miles in a vast and 
regular sweep the barren beach of shingle, with the 
village of Brenzctt standing out darkly across the 
water, a spire in a clump of trees ; and still further 
out the perpendicular column of a lighthouse, look- 
ing in the distance no bigger than a lead pencil, 
marks the vanishing-point of the land. The coun- 
try at the hack of Brenzett is low and flat, but the 
bay is fairly well sheltered from the seas, and occa- 
sionally a big ship, windbound or through stress 
of weather, makes use of the anchoring ground a 
mile and a half due north from you as you stand 
at the back door of the " Ship Inn " in Brenzett. 
[155] 



1 



9 



t 



AMY FOSTER 

A dilapidated windmill near by lifting its shattered 
arme from a mound no loftier than a rubbish heap, 
and a Martello tower squatting at the water's edge 
half a mile to the south of the Coastguard cottages, 
are familiar to the skippers of small craft. These 
are the official seamarks for the patch of trust- 
worthy bottom represented on the Admiralty charts 
by an irregular oval of dots enclosing several fig- 
urea six, with a tiny anchor engraved among them, 
and the legend " mud and shells " over all, 

The brow of the upland overtops the square 
tower of the Colebrook Church. The slope is 
green and looped by a white road. Ascending 
along this road, you open a valley broad and shal- 
low, a wide green trough of pastures and hedges 
merging inland into a vista of purple tints and 
flowing lines closing the view. 

In this valley down to Brenzett and Colebrook 
and up to Darnford, the market town fourteen 
miles away, lie.s the practice of my friend Kennedy. 
He had begun life as surgeon in the Navy, and 
afterwards had been the companion of a famous 
traveller, in the days when there were continents 
with unexplored interiors. His papers on the 
[156] 



AMY FOSTER 
fauna and flora made him known to scientific aocie- 
ties. And now he had come to a country practice 
— from choice. The penetrating power of his 
mind, acting hke a corrosive fluid, had destroyed 
his ambition, I fancy. His intelligence is of a 
scientific order, of an investigating habit, and of 
that unappeasable curiosity which Believes that 
there is a particle of a general truth in every mys- 
tery. 

A good many years ago now, on my return from 
abroad, he invited me to stay with him. 1 came 
readily enough, and as he could not neglect his 
patients to keep me company, he took me on his 
rounds — thirty miles or so of an afternoon, some- 
times. I waited for him on the roads; the horse 
reached after the leafy twigs, and, sitting high in 
the dogcart, I could hear Kennedy's laugh through 
the half-open door left open of some cottage. He 
had a big, hearty laugh that would have fitted a 
man twice his size, a brisk manner, a bronzed face, 
and a pair of grey, profoundly attentive eyes. He 
had the talent of making people talk to him freely, 
and an inexhaustible patience in listening to their 
tales. 

[isr] 



^-ii 



AMY FOSTER 

One day, as we trotted out of a large village into 
a shady bit of road, I saw on our left hand a low, 
black cottage, with diamond panes in the windows, 
a creeper on the end wall, a roof of shingle, and 
some roses climbing on the rickety trellis-work of 
the tiny porch, Kennedy pulled up to a walk. A 
woman, in full sunlight, was throwing a dripping 
blanket over a line stretched between two old ap- 
ple-trees. And as the bobtailed, long-necked chest- 
nut, trying to get his head, jerked the left hand, 
covered by a thick dogskin glove, the doctor raised 
his voice over the hedge : " How's your child, 
Amy? " 

I bad the time to see her dull face, red, not with 
a mantling blush, but as if her flat cheeks had been 
vigorously slapped, and to take in the squat figure, 
the scanty, dusty brown hair drawn into a tight 
knot at the back of the bead. She looked quite 
young. With a distinct catch in her breath, her 
voice sounded low and timid. 

" He's well, thank you." 

We trotted again. " A young patient of 
yours," I said ; and the doctor, flicking the chest- 
nut absently, muttered, " Her husband used to be," 
[158] 



AMY FOSTER 

" She seems a dull creature," I remarked list- 
lessl;. 

" Precisely," said Kennedy. " She is very pas- 
sive. It's enough to look at the red hands hanging 
at the end of those short arms, at those slow, prom- 
inent brown eyes, to know the inertness of her mind 
— an inertness that one would think made it ever- 
lastingly safe from all the surprises of imagina- 
tion. And yet which of us is safe? At any rat*, 
such as you see her, she had enough imagination 
to fall in love. She's the daughter of one Isaac 
Foster, who from a small farmer has sunk into a 
shepherd; the beginning of his misfortunes dating 
from his runaway marriage with the cook of his 
widowed father — a well-to-do, apoplectic grazier, 
who passionately struck his name off his will, and 
had been heard to utter threats against his life. 
But this old affair, scandalous enough to serve as 
a motive for a Greek tragedy, arose from the simi- 
larity of their characters. There are other trage- 
dies, less scandalous and of a subtler poignancy, 
arising from irreconcilable differences and from 
that fear of the Incomprehensible that hangs over 
all our heads — over all our heads. ..." 
[169] 




AMY FOSTER 

The tired chestnut dropped into a walk ; and the 
rim of the sun, all red in a speckless sky, touched 
familiarly the smooth top of a ploughed rise near 
the road as I had seen it times innumerable touch 
the distant horizon of the sea. The uniform 
brownness of the harrowed field glowed with a rosy 
tinge, as though the powdered clods had sweated 
out in minute pearb of blood the toil of uncounted 
ploughmen. From the edge of a copse a waggon 
with two horses was rolling gently along the ridge. 
Raised above our heads upon the sky-line, it loomed 
up against the red sun, triumphantly big, enor- 
mous, like a chariot of giants drawn by two slow- 
stepping steeds of legendary proportions. And 
'the clumsy figure of the man plodding at the head 
lof the leading horse projected itself on the back- 
ground of the Infinite with a heroic uncouthness. 
The end of his carter's whip quivered high up in 
the blue. Kennedy discoursed. 

" She's the eldest of a large family. At the age 
of fifteen they put her out to service at the New 
Barns Farm. I attended Mrs. Smith, the tenant's 
wife, and saw that girl there for the first time. 
Mrs. Smith, a genteel person with a sharp nose, 
[160] 



■ made her put oi 



AMY POSTER 
made her put on a black dress every afternoon, I 
don't know what induced me to notice her at all. 
There are faces that call your attention by a cu- 
rious want of definiteness in their whole aspect, as, 
walking in a mist, you peer attentively at a vague 
shape which, after all, may be nothing more cu- 
rious or strange than a signpost. The only pecu- 
liarity I perceived in her was a slight hesitation in 
her utterance, a sort of preliminary stammer which \ _j- 

passes away with the first word. When sharplyi t-.V^ 

spoken to, she was apt to lose her head at once ; but \ I i>»^ 
her heart was of the kindest. She had never been 
heard to express a dislike for a single human being, 
and she was tender to every living creature. She 
was devoted to Mrs. Smith, to Mr, Smith, to their 
dogs, cats, canaries ; and as to Mrs. Smith's grey 
parrot, its peculiarities exercised upon her a posi-l) 
tive fascination. Nevertheless, when that outland- 
ish bird, attacked by the cat, shrieked for help in i 
human accents, she ran out into the yard stopping i 
her ears, and did not prevent the crime. For Mrs. 
Smith this was another evidence of her stupidity ; 
on the other hand, her want of charm, in view of 
Smith's well-known frivolousness, was a great rec- 
[161] 




AMY POSTER 

ommendation. Her short-sighted eyes would swim 
with pity for a poor mouse in a trap, and she had 
been seen once by some boys on her knees in the wet 
grass helping a toad in difficulties. If it's true, as 
some German fellow has said, that without phos- 
phorus there is no thought, it is still more true that 
there is no kindness of heart without a certain 
amount of imagination. She had some. She had 
even more than is necessary to understand suffer- 
ing and to be moved by pity. She fell in love un- 
der circumstances that leave no room for doubt in 
the matter ; for you need imagination to form a 
notion of beauty at all, and still more to discover 
your ideal in an unfamihar shape. 

" How this aptitude came to her, what it did 
feed upon, is an inscrutable mystery. She was 
born in the village, and had never been further 
away from it than Colebrook or perhaps Darnford. 
She lived for four years with the Smiths. New 
Bams is an isolated farmhouse a mile away from 
the road, and she was content to look day after 
day at the same fields, hollows, rises; at the trees 
and the hedgerows; at the faces of the four men 
about the farm, always the same — day after day, 
[162] 



AMY POSTER 
month after month, year after year. She never 
showed a desire for conversation, and, as it seemed 
to me, alic did not know how to smite. Sometimes 
of a fine Sunday afternoon she would put on her 
best dres9, a pair of stout boots, a large grey hat 
trimmed with a black feather (I've seen her in that 
finery), seize an absurdly slender parasol, climb 
over two stilea, tramp over three fields and along 
two hundred yards of road— never further. There 
stood Foster's cottage. She would help her mother 
to give their tea to the younger children, wash up 
the crockery, kiss the little ones, and go back to 
the farm. That was all. All the rest, all the 
change, all the relaxation. She never seemed to 
wish for anything more. And then she fell in love. 
She fell in love silently, obstinately- — perhaps help- 
lessly. It came slowly, but when it came it worked 
like a powerful spell; it was love as the Ancients 
understood it : an irresistible and fateful impulse— 
a possession ! Yes, it was in her to become haunted 
and possessed by a face, by a presence, fatally, as 
though she had been a pagan worshipper of form 
under a joyous sky — and to be awakened at last 
from that mysterious forgetfulness of self, from 
[163] 



r 



AMY FOSTER 

ithat enchantment, from that transport, by a, 
jifear resembling the unaccountable terror of a 
I'brute. . . ." 

With the Bun hanging low on its western limit, 
the expanse of the grass-lands framed in the coun- 
ter-scarps of the rising ground took on a gorgeous 
and sombre aspect. A sense of penetrating sad- 
ness, like that inspired by a grave strain of music, 
disengaged itself from the silence of the fields. 
' The men we met walked past slow, unsmiling, with 
downcast eyes, as if the melancholy of an over-bur- 
dened earth had weighted their feet, bowed their 
shoulders, borne down their glances. 

" Yea," said the doctor to my remark, " one 
would think the earth is under a curse, since of all 
her children these that cling to her the closest are 
uncouth in body and as leaden of gait as if their 
very hearts were loaded with chains. But here on 
this same road you might have seen amongst those 
heavy men a being lithe, supple, and long-limbed, 
straight like a pine with something striving up- 
wards in his appearance as though the heart with- 
in him had been buoyant. Perhaps it was only the 
force of the contrast, but when he was passing one 
[164] 



AMY POSTER 
of these villagers here, the soles of his feet didjiet" 
seem to me to touch the dust of the.jw&'cl. He 
vaulted over the stiles, paced-theSe slopes with a 
long elastic stride that made him noticeable at a 
great distance, and 4iad lustrous black eyes. He 
was so different from the mankind around that, 
with his freedom of movement, his soft- — a little 
startled, glance, his olive complexion and graceful 
bearing, liis humanity suggested to me the nature 
of a woodland creature. He came from there." 

The doctor pointed with his whip, and from the 
summit of the descent seen over the rolling tops of 
the trees in a park by the aide of the road, appeared 
the level sea far below us, like the door of an im- 
mense edifice inlaid with bands of dark ripple, with 
still trails of glitter, ending in a belt of glassy 
water at the foot of the sky. The light blur of 
smoke, from an invisible steamer, faded on the 
great clearness of the horizon like the mist of a 
breath on a mirror ; and, inshore, the white sails of 
a coaster, with the appearance of disentangling 
themselves slowly from under the branches, floated 
clear of the foliage of the trees. 

" Shipwrecked in the bay? " I said. 
[ 165 ] 



AMY POSTER 

"Yes; he was a castaway. A poor emigrant 
from Central Europe bound to America and washed 
ashore liere in a storm. And for him, who knew 
nothing of the earth, England was an undiscovered 
country. It was some time before he learned its 
name; and for all I know he might have expected 
to find wild beasts or wild men here, when, crawling 
in the dart over the sea-wall, he rolled down the 
other side into a djke, where it was another miracle 
he didn't get drowned. But he struggled instinc- 
tively like an animal under a net, and this blind 
struggle threw him out into a field. He must have 
been, indeed, of a tougher fibre than he looked to 
withstand without expiring such huffctings, the 
violence of his exertions, and so much fear. Later 
on, in his broken English that resembled curiously 
the speech of a young child, he told me himself that 
he put his trust in God, believing he was no longer 
in this world. And truly — he would add — how was 
he to know? He fought his way against the rain 
and the gale on all fours, and crawled at last 
among some sheep huddled close under the lee of a 
hedge. They ran off in all directions, bleating in 
the darkness, and he welcomed the first familiar 
[166] 



AMY FOSTER 

Bound he heard on these shores. It must have been 
two in the morning then. And this is all wc know 
of the manner of his landing, though he did not 
arrive unattended by any means. Only his grislj 
company did not begin to come ashore till much 
later in the day. . . ." 

The doctor gathered the reins, clicked his 
tongue ; we trotted down the hill. Then turning, 
almost directly, a sharp comer into the High 
Street, we rattled over the stones and were home. 

Late in the evening Kennedy, breaking a spell 
of moodiness that had come over him, returned to 
the story. Smoking his pipe, he paced the long 
room from end to end. A reading-lamp concen- 
trated all its light upon the papers on his desk; 
and, sitting by the open window, I saw, after the 
windless, scorching day, the frigid splendour of a 
hazy sea lying motionless under the moon. Not a 
whisper, not a splash, not a stir of the shingle, not 
a footstep, not a sigh came up from the earth be- 
low — never a sign of life but the scent of climbinff 
jasmine ; and Kennedy's voice, speakjne behind me, 
passed through the wide casement, to vanish out- 
side in a chill and sumptuous stillness. 
[167] 



AMY FOSTER 

". . . The relations of shipwrecks in the 
olden time tell os of much suffering. Often the 
castaways were only saved from drowning to die 
miserably from starvation on a barren coast; oth- 
ers suffered violent death or else slavery, passing 
through years of prccariouB existence with people 
to whom their strangeness was an object of suspi- 
cion, dislike or fear. We read about these things, 
and they are very pitiful. It is indeed hard upon 
a man to find himself a lost stranger, helpless, 
incomprehensible, and of a mysterious origin, m 
some obscure comer of the earth. Yet amongst all 
the adventurers shipwrecked in all the wild parts of 
the world there is not one, it seems to me, that ever 
had to suffer a fate so simply tragic as the man I 
am speaking of, the most innocent of adventurers 
cast out by the sea in the bight of this bay, almost 
within sight from this very window. 

" He did not know the name of his ship. Indeed, 
In the course of time we discovered he did not even 
know that ships bad names—' like Christian peo- 
ple'; and when, one day, from the top of the Tal- 
fourd Hill, he beheld the sea lying open to his view, 
his eyes roamed afar, lost in an air of wild surprise, 
[168] 



AMY POSTER 

as though he had never seen such a siglit before, 
And probably he had not. As far as 1 could make 
out, he had been hustled togotlier with many others 
on board an emigrant-ship Ijing at the mouth of 
the Elbe, too bewildered to take note of his sur- 
roundings, too weary to see anything, too anxious 
to care. They were driven below into the 'tween- 
deck and battened down from the very start. It 
was a low timber dwelling — he would say — with 
wooden beams overhead, like the houses in his coun- 
try, but you went into it down a ladder. It was 
very large, very cold, damp and sombre, with places 
in the manner of wooden boxes where people had to 
sleep, one above another, and it kept on rocking all 
ways at once sdl the time. He crept into one of 
these boxes and laid down there in the clothes in 
which he had left his home many days before, keep- 
ing his bundle and his stick by his side. People 
groaned, children cried, water dripped, the lights 
went out, the walls of the place creaked, and every- 
thing was being shaken bo that in one's little box 
one dared not hft one's head. He had lost touch 
with his only companion (a young man from the 
same valley, he said), and all the time a great noise 
[169] 



AMY FOSTER 

of wind went on outside and heavy blows fell — 
boom ! boom ! An awful sickness overcame him, 
even to tlic point of making him neglect his pray- 
ers. Besides, one could not tell whether it was 
morning or evening. It seemed always to be night 
in that place. 

" Before that he had been travelling a long, long 
time on the iron track. He looked out of the win- 
dow, which had a wonderfully clear glass in it, and 
tlie trees, the houses, the fields, and the long roads 
seemed to fly round and round about him till his 
head swam. He gave me to understand that he had 
on his passage beheld uncounted multitudes of peo- 
ple — whole nations^ — -all dressed in such clothes as 
the rich wear. Once he was made to get out of the 
carriage, and slept through a night on a bench in 
a house of bricks with his bundle under his head; 
and once for many hours he had to sit on a floor of 
flat stones dozing, with his knees up and with his 
bundle between his feet. There was a roof over him, 
which seemed made of glass, and was so high that 
the tallest mountain-pine he had ever seen would 
have had room to grow under it. Steam-machines 
rolled in at one end and out at the other. People 
[170] 



FOSTER 

Bwanned more tlian you can see on a feast-day 
round the miraculous Holy Image in the yard of 
the Carmelite Convent down in the plains where, 
before he left his home, he drove his mother in a 
wooden cart — a pious old woman who wanted to 
offer prayers and make a vow for his safety. He 
could not give me an idea of how large and lofty 
and full of noise and smoke and gloom, and clang 
of iron, the place was, but some one had told him 
it was called Berlin. Then they rang a bell, and 
another steam-machine came in, and again he was 
taken on and on through a land that wearied his 
eyes by its flatness without a single bit of a hill to 
be seen anywhere. One more night he spent shut 
up in a building like a good stable with a litter of 
straw on the floor, guarding bis bundle amongst a 
lot of men, of whom not one could understand a 
single word he said. In the morning they were all 
led down to the stony shores of an extremely broad 
muddy river, flowing not between hills but between 
houses that seemed immense. There was a steam- 
machine that went on the water, and they all stood 
upon it packed tight, only now there were with 
them many women and children who made much 
[171] 





AMY FOSTER 
noise. A cold rain fell, the wind blew in his face ; 
he was wet through, and his teeth chattered. He 
and the young man from the same valley took each 
other by the hand. 

" They thought they were being taken to Amer- 
ica straight away, but suddenly the steam-machine 
bumped against the side of a thing like a house on 
the water. The walls were smooth and black, and 
there uprose, growing from the roof as it were, 
bare trees in the shape of crosses, extremely high. 
That's how it appeared to him then, for he had 
never seen a ship before. This was the ship that 
was going to swim all the way to America. Voices 
shouted, everything swayed; there was a ladder 
dipping up and down. He went up on his hands 
and knees in mortal fear of falling into the water 
below, which made a great splashing. He got sep- 
arated from his companion, and when he descended 
into the bottom of that ship his heart seemed to melt 
suddenly within him. 

" It was then also, as he told me, that he lost con- 
tact for good and all with one of those three men 
who the summer before had been going about 
through all the little towns in the foothills of his 
[17«] 



AMY FOSTER 

coimtrj. Thej woti]d arrive on maitet days driv- 
ing in a peasant's cart, and would set up an office 
in au inn or some other Jew's house. There were 
Three- of ihem, of wliom one with a long beard 
lookcxl venerable; and they had red cloth collars 
round their necks and gold lace on their sleeves 
like Govemnient officials. Tbej sat proudly behind 
a long table ; and in the next room, so that the com- 
mon people shouldn't hear, they kept a cunning 
telegraph machine, through which they could talk 
to the Emperor of America. The fathere hung 
about the door, but the young men of the mountains 
would crowd up to the table asking many questions, 
for there was work to be got all the year round at 
three dollars a day in America, and no military 
ser\-ice to do, 

"But the American Kaiser would not take every- 
body. Oh, no! He himself had a great difficulty 
in getting accepted, and the venerable man in uni- 
form had to go out of the room several times to 
work the telegraph on his behalf. The American 
Kaiser engaged him at last at three dollars, he 
being young and strong. However, many able 
young men backed out, afraid of the great dis- 
[173] 



tancc; besides, those only who had some moijej 
could be taken. There were some who Bold their 
huts and their land because it cost a lot of money 
to get to America; but then, once there, you had 
three dollars a day, and if you were clever you 
could lind places where true gold could be picked 
up on the ground. His father's house was getting 
over full. Two of his brothers were married and 
had children. He promised to send money home 
from America by post twice a year. His father 
sold an old cow, a pair of piebald mountain poniei 
of his own raising, and a cleared plot of fair pas- . 
ture land on the sunny slope of a pine-clad pass to 
a Jew inn-keeper in order to pay the people of the 
ship that took men to America to get rich in a 
short time, 

" He must have been a real adventurer at heart, 
for how many of the greatest enterprises in the 
conquest of the earth had for their beginning just 
such a bargaining away of the paternal cow for the 
mirage or true gold far away ! I have been telling 
you more or less in my own words what I learned 
fra^mcntarily in the course of two or three years, 
during which I seldom missed an opportunity of a 
[17*] 



AMY FOSTER 

friendly chat with him. He told me this story of 
his adventure with many flashes of white teeth and 
lively glances of black eyes, at first in a sort of anx- 
ious baby-talk, then, as he acquired the language, 
with great fluency, but always with that singing, 
soft, and at the same time vibrating intonation that 
instilled a strangely penetrating power into the 
sound of the most familiar English words, as if 
they had been the words of an unearthly language. 
And he always would come to an end, with many 
emphatic sliakes of his head, upon that awful sen- 
sation of his heart melting within hini directly he 
set foot on board that ship. Afterwards there 
semed to come for him a period of blank ignorance, 
at any rate as to facts. No doubt he must have 
been abominably sea-sick and abominably unhappy 
— this soft and passionate adventurer, taken thus 
out of his knowledge, and feeling bitterly as he lay 
in his emigrant bunk his utter loneliness: for his 
was a highly sensitive nature. The nest thing we 
know of him for certain is that he had been hiding 
in Hammond's pig-pound by the side of the road 
to Norton six miles, as the crow flies, from the sea. 
Of these experiences he was unwillin^r to speak: 
[175] 



AMY FOSTER 

they seemed to have scared into his soul a sombre 
sort of wonder and indignation. Through the ru- 
mours of the country-side, which lasted for a good 
many days after his arrival, we know that the fish- 
ermen of West Colebrook had been disturbed and 
startled by heavy knocks against the walls of 
weatherboard cottages, and by a voice crying 
piercingly strange words in the night. Se-eral of 
them turned out even, but, no doubt, he had fled in 
sudden alarm at their rough angry tones hailing 
each other in the darkness. A sort of frenzy must 
have helped him up tlie steep Norton hiD. It was 
he, no doubt, who early the following morning had 
been seen lying (in a swoon, I should say) on the 
roadside grass by tlie Brcnzett carrier, who actually 
got down to have a nearer look, but drew back, in- 
timidated by the perfect immobility, and by some- 
thing queer in the aspect of that tramp, sleeping 
so still under the showers. As the day advanced, 
some children came dashing into school at Norton 
in such a fright that the schoolmistress went out 
and spoke indignantly to a ' horrid-looking man ' 
on the road. He edged away, hanging his head, 
for a few steps, and then suddenly ran off with ex- 
[176] 



J 



AMY POSTER 

traordinary fleetness. The driver of Mr. Brad- 
ley's milk-cart made no secret of it that he had 
lashed with his whip at a hairy sort of gipsy fel- 
low who, jumping up at a turn of the road by the 
Vents, made a snatch at the pony's bridle. And 
he caught him a good one too, right over the face, 
he said, that made him drop donii iu the mud a 
jolly sight quicker than he had jumped up; but it 
was a good half-a-mile before he could stop the 
pony. Maybe that in his desperate endeavours to 
get help, and iirhis need to get in touch with some 
one, the poor devil had tried to stop the cart. Also 
three boys confessed afterwards to throwing stones 
at a funny tramp, knocking about all wet and 
muddj, and, it seemed, very drunk, in the narrow 
deep lane by the limekilns. All this was the talk of 
three villages for days; hut we have Mrs. Finn's 
(the wife of Smith's waggoner) unimpeachable 
testimony that she saw him get over the low wall of 
Hammond's pig-pound and lurch straight at her, 
babbling aloud In a voice that was enough to make 
one die of fright. Having the baby with her in a 
perambulator, Mrs. Finn called out to him to go 
away, and as he persisted In coming nearer, she hit 
[177] 





AMY FOSTER 

him courageously with her umbrella over the head) 
and, without once looking back, ran like the wind 
with the perambulator as far as the first house in 
the village. She stopped then, out of breath, and 
spoke to old Lewis, hammering there at a heap of 
stones; and the old chap, taking off his immense 
black wire goggles, got up on his shaky legs to 
look where she pointed. Together they followed 
with their eyes the figure of the man running over 
a field; they saw him fall down, pick himself up, 
and run on again, staggering and waving his long 
arms above his head, in the direction of tlie New 
Barns Farm, From that moment he is plainly in 
the toils of his obscure and touching destiny- 
There is no doubt after this of what happened to 
him. All is certain now: Mrs. Smith's intense ter- 
ror; Amy Foster's stolid conviction held against 
the other's nervous attack, that the man ' meant no 
harm'; Smith's exasperation (on his return from 
Damford Market) at finding the dog barking 
himself into a fit, the back-door locked, his wife in 
hysterics; and all for an unfortunate dirty tramp, 
supposed to be even then lurking in his stackyard. 
Was he? He would teach him to frighten women. 
[1781 



AMY FOSTER 
" Smith is notoriously hot-terapered, but the 
sight of some nondescript and miry creature sitting 
crosslegged amongst a lot of loose straw, and 
swinging itself to and fro like a bear In a cage, 
made him pause. Then this tramp stood up si- 
lently before him, one mass of mud and filth from 
head to foot. Smith, alone amongst his stacks with 
this apparition, in the stormy twilight ringing with 
the infuriated barking of the dog, felt the dread 
of an inexplicable strangeness. But when that be- 
ing, parting with his black bands the long matted 
locks that hung before his face, as you part the two 
halves of a curtain, looked out at him with glisten- 
ing, wild, black-and-white eyes, the weirdness of 
this silent encounter fairly staggered him. He had 
admitted since ( for the story has been a legitimate 
subject of conversation about here for years) that 
he made more than one step backwards. Then a 
sudden burst of rapid, senseless speech persuaded 
him at once that he had to do with an escaped luna- 
tic. In fact, that impression never wore off com- 
pletely. Smith has not in his heart given up his 
secret conviction of the man's essential insanity to 
this very day. 

[179] 



tJ 



AMY POSTER 
" As the creature approached him, jabbering in 
a most discomposing manner, Smith (unaware that 
he was being addressed as ' gracious lord,' and ad- 
jured in God's name to afford food and shelter) 
kept on speaking firmly but gently to it, and re- 
treating all the time into the other yard. At last, 
watching hia chance, by a sudden charge he bun- 
dled him headlong into the wood-lodge, and in- 
stantly shot the holt. Thereupon he wiped his 
brow, tliough the day was cold. He had done his 
duty to the community by shutting up a wander- 
ing and probably dangerous maniac. Smith isn't 
a hard man at all, but he had room in his brain only 
for that one idea of lunacy. He was not imagina- 
tive enough to ask himself whether the man might 
not be perishing with cold and hunger. Meantime, 
at first, the maniac made a great deal of noise in 
the lodge. Mrs. Smith was screaming upstairs, 
where she had locked herself in her bedroom; but 
Amy Foster sobbed piteously at the kitchen door, 
wringing her hands and muttering, 'Don't! 
don't ! ' I daresay Smith had a rough time of it 
that evening with one noise and another, and this 
insane, disturbing voice crying obstinately through 
[180] 



AMY FOSTER 

the door only added to his irritation. He couldn't 
possibly have connected this troublesome lunatic 
with the sinking of a. ship in Eastbay, of which 
there had been a rumour in the Darnford market- 
place. And I daresay the man inside had been very 
near to insanity on that night. Before his excite- 
ment collapsed and he became unconscious he was 
throwing himself violently about in the dark, roll- 
ing on some dirty sacks, and biting his fists with 
rage, cold, hunger, amazement, and despair. 

" He was a mountaineer of the eastern range of 
the Carpathians, and the vessel sunk the night be- 
fore in Eastbay was the Hamburg emigrant-ship 
Hersogin Sophia-Dorothsa, of appalling mem- 
ory. 

" A few months later we could read in the papers 
the accounts of the bogus ' Emigration Agencies ' 
among the Sclavonian peasantry in the more re- 
mote provinces of Austria. The object of these 
scoundrels was to get hold of the poor ignorant 
people's homesteads, and they were in league with 
the local usurers. They exported their victims 
through Hamburg mostly. As to the ship, I had 
watched her out of this very window, reaching 
[181] 



AMY FOSTER 

close-hauled under short canvas into the bay on a 
dark, threatening afternoon. She came to an an- 
chor, correctly by the chart, off the Brenzctt Coast- 
guard station. I rememhcr before the night fell 
looking out again at the outlines of her spars and 
ringing that stood out dark and pointed on a back- 
ground of ragged, slaty clouds like another and a 
slighter spire to the left of the Brenzett church- 
tower. In the evening the wind rose. At midnight 
I could hear in my bed the terrific gusts and the 
sounds of a driving deluge. 

" About that time the Coastguardmen thought 
they saw the lights of a steamer over the anchoring- 
ground. In a moment they vanished ; but it is clear 
that another vessel of some sort had tried for shel- 
ter in the bay on that awful, blind night, had 
rammed the German ship amidships (a breacli — 
as one of the divers told me afterwards—' that you 
could sail a Thames barge through'), and then 
had gone out either scathless or damaged, who shall 
say; but had gone out, unknown, unseen, and fatal, 
to perish mysteriously at sea. Of her nothing ever 
came to light, and yet the hue and cry that was 
raised all over the world would have found her out 
[ 182 ] 



AMY FOSTER 

if slie had been in existence anywhere on the face 
of the waters. 

*' A completeness without a clue, and a stealthy 
silence as of a neatly executed crime, characterise 
this murderous disaster, which, as you may remem- 
ber, had its gruesome celebrity. The wind would 
have prevented the loudest outcries from reaching 
the shore ; there had been evidently no time for sig- 
nals of distress. It was death without any sort of 
fuss. The Hamburg ship, filling all at once, cap- 
sized as she sank, and at daylight there was not 
even the end of a spar to be seen above water. She 
was missed, of course, and at first the Coastguard- 
men surmised that she had cither dragged her an- 
chor or parted her cable some time during the 
night, and had been blown out to sea. Then, after 
the tide turned, the wreck must have shifted a little 
and released some of the bodies, because a child 
— a little fair-haired child in a red frock — 
came ashore abreast of the Martello tower. By 
the afternoon you could see along three miles of 
beach dark figures with bare legs dashing in 
and out of the tumbling foam, and rough-look- 
ing men, women with hard faces, children, mostly 
[183] 



AMY FOSTER 
fair-haired, were being carried, stiff and dripping, 
on stretchers, on wattles, on ladders, in a long 
procession past the door of the ' Ship Inn,' to be 
laid out in a row under the north wall of the 
Brenzett Church. 

" Officially, the body of the little girl in the red 
frock is the first thing that came ashore from that 
ship. But I have patients amongst the seafaring 
population of West Colebrook, and, unofficially, I 
am informed that very early that morning two 
brothers, who went down to look after their cobble 
hauled up on the beach, found, a good way from 
Brenzett, an ordinary ship's hencoop lying high 
and dry on the shore, with eleven drowned ducks 
inside. Their families ate the birds, and the hen- 
coop was split into firewood with a hatchet. It is 
possible that a man (supposing he happened to be 
on deck at the time of the accident) might have 
floated ashore on that hencoop. He might. I ad- 
mit it i.s improbable, but there was the man — and 
for days, nay, for weeks — it didn't enter our heads 
that we had amongst us the only living soul that 
had escaped from that disaster. The man himself, 
even when he learned to speak intelligibly, could 
[184] 



Amy fosteh 

tell U9 very little. He remembered he had felt bet- 
ter (after the ship had anchored, I suppose), and 
that the darkness, the wind, and the rain took his 
breath away. This looks as if he had been on deck 
some time during that night. But we mustn't forget 
he had been taken out of his knowledge, that he 
had been sea-sick and battened down below for four 
days, that he had no general notion of a ship or of 
the sea, and therefore could have no definite idea 
of what was happening to him. The rain, the 
wind, the darkness he knew; he understood the 
bleating of the sheep, and he remembered the pain 
of his wretchedness and misery, liis heartbroken as- 
tonishment that it was neither seen nor understood, 
his dismay at finding all the men angry and all the 
women fierce. He had approached them as a beg- -'^ 
gar, it is true, he said; but in his country, even if 
they gave nothing, they spoke gently to beggars. 
The children in his country were not taught to 
throw stones at those who asked for competssion. 
Smith's strategy overcame him completely. The 
wood-lodge presented the horrible aspect of a dun- 
geon. What would be done to him next? . . . 
No wonder that Amy Foster appeared to his eyes 
[185] 



.Uh^ 



AMY FOSTER 
with the aureole of an angel of light. The girl 
had not been able to sleep for thinking of the poor 
man, and in the morning, before the Smiths were 
up, she slipjjed out across the back yard. Holding 
the door of the wood-lodge ajar, she looked in and 
extended to him half a loaf of white bread — ' such 
bread as the rich eat in my country,' he used to 
say. 

" At this he got up slowly from amongst all sorts 
of rubbish, stiff, hungry, trembling, miserable, and 
doubtful. ' Can you e^t this? ' she asked in her 
soft and timid voice. He must have taken her for 
a ' gracious lady.' He devoured ferociously, and 
tears were falling on the crust. Suddenly he 
dropped the bread, seized her wrist, and im- 
printed a kias on her hand. She was not fright- 
ened. Through his forlorn condition she had 
observed that he was good-looking. She shut 
the door and walked back slowly to the kitchen. 
Much later on, she told Mrs. Smith, who shud- 
dered at the bare idea of being touched by that 
creature. 

" Through this act of impulsive pity he was 

brought back again within the pale of human rela- 

[186] 



AMY FOSTER 
tions ^thjiw new surroundings. He never forgot 
it — never. 

" That very same morning old Mr. Swaffer 
{Smith's nearest neighbour) came over to give his 
advice, and ended by carrying him off. He stood, 
unsteady on his legs, meek, and caked over in lialf- 
dricd mud, while the two men talked around him in 
an incomprehensible tongue. Mrs. Smith had re- 
fused to come downstairs till the madman was off 
the premises ; Amy Foster, far from within the dark 
kitchen, watched through the open back door; and 
he obeyed the signs that were made to him to the 
best of his ability. But Smith was full of mistrust. 
'Mind, sir! It may be all his cunning,' he cried 
repeatedly in a tone of w^arning. When Mr. 
Swaffer started the marc, the deplorable being sit- 
ting humbly by his side, through weakness, nearly 
fell out over the back of the high two-wheeled curt. 
Swaffer took him straight home. And it is then 
that I come upon the scene. 

" I was called in by the simple process of the old 
man beckoning to me with his forefinger over t]ic 
gate of his house as I happened to be driving past. 
I got down, of course. 

[187] 



AMY FOSTER 

" * I've got' something here,' he mumbled, lead- 
ing the way to an outhouse at a little distance from 
his other farm -buildings. 

" It was there that I saw him first, in a long low 
room taken upon the space of that sort of coach- 
house. It was bare and whitewashed, with a small 
square aperture glazed with one cracked, dusty 
pane at its further end. He was lying on his back 
upon a straw pallet; they had given him a couple 
of horse-blankets, and he seemed to have spent the 
remainder of his strength in the exertion of clean- 
ing himself. He was almost speechless; his quick 
breathing under the blankets pulled up to his chin, 
his glittering, restless black eyes reminded me of a 
wild bir d caught in a snare. While I was examining 
him, old Swaffer stood silently by the door, passing 
the tips of his fingers along his shaven upper lip. 
I gave some directions, promised to send a bottle of 
medicine, and naturally made some inquiries. 

" ' Smith caught him in the stackyard at New 
Bams,* said the old chap in his deliberate, unmoved 
manner, and as if the other had been indeed a sort 
of wild animal. ' That's how I came by him. 
Quite a curiosity, isn't he? Now tell me, doctor — • 
[188] 



AMY FOSTER 

you've been all over the world — don't you think 
that's a bit of a Hindoo we've got hold of here' 

" I was greatly surprised. His long black hair 
scattered over the straw bolster contrasted with the 
olive pallor of his face. It occurred to me lie might 
be a Basque. It didn't necessarily follow tliat he 
should understand Spanish; but I tried him wilh 
the few words I know, and also with some French, 
The whispered soUiids I caught by bonding my car 
to his ,lips puzzled mc utterly. That afternoon the 
young ladies from the Rectory (one of tliem read 
Goethe with a dictionary, and the other had strug- 
gled with Dante for years), coming to see Miss 
SwafFer, tried their German and Italian on him 
from the doorway. They retreated, just the least 
bit scared by the flood of passionate speech which, 
turning on his pallet, he let out at them. They ad- 
mitted that the sound was pleasant, soft, musical— 
but, in conjunction with his looks perhaps, it was 
startling — so excitable, so utterly unlike anything 
one had ever heard. The village boys climbed up 
the bank to have a peep through the little square 
aperture. Everybody was wondering what Mr. 
Swaffer would do with him. 
[189] 



AMY FOSTER 

" He Bunplj kept him. 

" Swaffer would be called eccentric were he not 
so much respected. They will tell you that Mr. 
Swaifer sits up as late eis ten o'clock at night to 
read books, and they will tell you also that he can 
write a cheque for two hundred pounds without 
thinking twice about it. He himself would tell 
you that the Swaffcrs had owned land between 
this and Darnford for these three hundred years. 
He must be eighty-five to-day, but he does not look 
a bit older than when I firat came here. He is a 
great breeder of sheep, and deals extensively in cat- 
tle. He attends market days for miles around in 
every sort of weather, and drives sitting bowed low 
over the reins, his lank grey hair curling over the 
collar of his warm coat, and with a green plaid rug 
round hie legs. The calmness of advanced age 
gives a solemnity to his manner. He is clean- 
shaved; his lips are thin and sensitive; something 
rigid and monachal in the set of his features lends 
a certain elevation to the character of his face. He 
has been known to drive miles in the rain to see a 
new kind of rose in somebody's garden, or a mon- 
strous cabbage grown by a cottager. He loves to 
[190] 



AMY FOSTER 

hear tell of or to bo shown something that he calls 
' outlandish.' Perhaps it was just that outlandish- 
ness of the man which influenced old SwafFer. Per- 
haps it was only an inexplicable caprice. All I 
know is that at the end of three weeks I caught 
sight of Smith's lunatic digging in Swaffer'a kitch- 
en garden. They had found out he could use a 
spade. He dug barefooted. 

" His black hair flowed over his shoulders. I 
suppose it was Swaffer who had given him the 
striped old cotton shirt; but he wore still the na- 
tional brown cloth trousers (in which he had been 
washed ashore) fitting to the leg almost like 
tights; was belted with a broad leathern belt stud- 
ded with little brass discs ; and had never jet ven- 
tured into the village. The land he looked upon 
seemed to him kept neatly, like the grounds round 
a landowner's house ; the size of the cart-horses 
struck him with astonishment; the roads resembled 
garden walks, and the aspect of the people, espe- 
cially on Sundays, spoke of opulence. He won- 
dered what made them so hardhearted and their 
cliildren so bold. He got his food at the back door, 
carried it in both hands carefully to his outhouse, 







AMY FOSTER 

and, sitting alone on liis pallet, would make the sign 
of the cross before he began. Beside the same pal- 
let, kneeling in the early darkness of the short days, 
he recited aloud the Lord's Prayer before he slept. 
Whenever he saw old SwaiFer he would bow with 
veneration from the waist, and stand erect while 
the old man, with his fingers over his upper hp, sur- 
veyed him silently. He bowed also to Miss Swaffer, 
who kept liouse frugally for her father — a broad- 
shouldered, big-boned woman of forty-five, with 
the pocket of her dress full of keys, and a grey, 
steady eye. Shewas Church- — as people said 
(while her father was one of the trustees of the 
Baptist Chapel) — and wore a little steel cross at 
her waist. She dressed severely in black, in mem- 
ory of one of the innumerable Bradleys of the 
neighbour! lood, to whom she had been engaged 
some twenty-five years ago — a young farmer who 
broke his neck out hunting on the eve of the wed- 
ding day. She had the unmoved countenance of 
the deaf, spoke very seldom, and her lips, thin like 
her father's, astonished one sometimes by a myste- 
riously ironic curl. 

*' These were the people to whom he owed allc- 
[192] 



giance, and an overwhelming loneliness seemed to 
fall from the leaden sky of that winter without sun- 
shine. All the faces were sad. He could talk to 
no one, and had no hope of ever understanding 
anybody. It was as if these had been the faces of 
people from the other world — dead people — lie 
used to tell me years afterwards. Upon my word, 
I wonder he did not go mad. He didn't know 
where he was. Somewhere very far from Iiis moun- 
tains — somewhere over the water. Was this Amer- 
ica, he wondered? 

" If it hadn't been for the steel cross at Miss 
Swaffer'a belt he would not, he confessed, have 
known whether he was in a Christian country at 
all. He used to cast stealthy glances at it, and feci 
comforted. There was nothing hero the same as in 
his country ! The earth and the water were differ- 
ent; there were no images of the Redeemer by the 
roadside. The very grass was different, and the 
trees. AH the trees but the three old Norway pines 
on the bit of lawn before Swaffer's house, and 
these reminded him of his country. He had been 
detected once, after dusk, with his forehead against 
the trunk of one of them, sobbing, and talking to 
[193] 



AMY FOSTER 

himself. They had been like brothers to him at that 
time, he affirmed. Everything else was strange. 
Conceive you the kind of an existence ovcrsliad- 
owed, oppressed, by the everyday material appear- 
ances, as if by the visions of a nightmare. At 
night, when he couJd not sleep, be kept on thinking 
of the girl who gave him the first piece of bread he 
had eaten in this foreign land. She had been 
neither fierce nor angry, nor frightened. Her face 
he rcmemtwrcd as the only coniprehensible face 
amongst all these faces that were as closed, as mys- 
terious, and as mute as the faces of the dead who 
are possessed of a knowledge beyond the compre- 
hension of the living. I wonder whether the men*- 
ory of her compassion prevented Mm from cutting 
his throat. But there ! I suppose I am an old sen- 
timentalist, and forget the instinctive love of life 
which it takes all the strength of an uncommon de- 
spair to overcome, 

" He did the work which was given him with an 
intelligence which surprised old Swaffer. By-and- 
by it was discovered that he could help at the 
ploughing, coidd milk the cows, feed the buDocb 
in the cattle-yard, and was of some use with the 
[194] 



sheep. He began to pick up words, too, very fast ; 
and suddenly, one fine morning io spring, he res- 
cued from an untimely death a grand-child of old 
SwafFer. 

" Swaffer'B younger daughter is married to 
Willcox, a solicitor and the Town Clerk of Cole- 
brook. Regularly twice a year they come to stay 
with the old man for a few days. Their only child, 
a little girl not three years old at the time, ran out 
of the house alone in her little white pinafore, and, 
toddling across the grass of a terraced garden, 
pitched herself over a low wall head first into the 
horsepond in the yard below. 

" Our man was out with the waggoner and the 
plough in the field nearest to the house, and as he 
was leading the team round to begin n fresh fur- 
row, he saw, through the gap of the gate, what for 
anybody else would have been a mere flutter of 
something white. But he had straight-glancing, 
quick, far-reaching eyes, thtit only seemed to flinch 
and lose their amazing power before the immensity 
of the sea. Ho was barefooted, and looking as out- 
landish as the heart of Swaffer could desire. Leav- 
ing the horses on the turn, to the inexpressible dis- 
[195] 




AMY POSTER 
gust of the waggoner he bounded off, going over 
the ploughed ground in long leaps, and suddenly 
appeared before the mother, thrust the child into 
her arms, and strode away. 

" The pond was not very deep ; but still, if he 
had not had such good eyes, the child would have 
perished — miserably suffocated in the foot or so of 
sticky mud at the bottom. Old Swaffer walked out 
slowly into the field, waited till the plough came 
over to his side, had a good look at him, and with- 
out saying a word went back to the house. But 
from that time they laid out his meals on the kitch- 
en table ; and at first, Miss Swaffer, all in black and 
with an inscrutable face, would come and stand in 
the doorway of the living-room to see him make a 
big sign of the cross before he fell to, I believe that 
from that day, too, Swaffer began to pay him reg- 
ular wages. 

" I can't follow step by step his development. 
He cut his hair short, was seen in the village and 
along the road going to and fro to his work like 
any other man. Children ceased to shout after him. 
He became aware of social differences, but re- 
mained for a long time surprised at the bare pov- 

[196] 



AMY POSTER 
erty of the churches among so much wealth. He 
couldn't understand either why they were kept abut 
up on week days. There was nothing to steal in 
them. Was ib to keep people from praying too 
often? The rectory took much notice of him about 
that time, and I believe tlie young ladies attempted 
to prepare the ground for his conversion. They 
could not, however, break him of his habit of cross- 
ing himself, but he went so far as to take oiF the 
string with a couple of brass medals the size of a 
sixpence, a tiny nictal cross, and a square sort of 
scapulary which he wore round his neck. He hung 
them on the wall by tlie side of his bed, and he was 
still to be heard every evening reciting the Lord's 
Prayer, in incomprehensible words and in a slow, 
fervent tone, as he had heard his old father do at 
the head of all the kneeling family, big and little, 
on every evening of his life. And though he wore 
corduroys at work, and a slop-made pepper-and- 
salt suit on Sundays, strangers would turn round 
to look after him on the road. His foreignness had 
a peculiar and indelible stamp. At last people be- 
came used to see him. But tliey never became used 
to him. His rapid, skimming walk ; his swarthy 
[197] 



com pit 



lexion ; his hat cocked i 
evenings, of we 



1 the left ear ; his hab- 



his coat over one 
shoulder, like a hussar's dolman; his manner of 
leaping over the stiles, not as a feat of agility, but 
in the ordinary course of progression — all these 
peculiarities were, tis one may say, bo many causes 
of scorn and offence to the inhabitants of the vil- 
liige. They wouldn't in their dinner hour lie flat 
on their backs on the grass to stare at the sky. 
Neither did they go about the fields screaming dis- 
mal tunes. Many times have I heard his high- 
pitclied voice from behind the ridge of some slop- 
ing sheep-walk, a voice light and soaring, like a 
lark's, but with a melancholy human note, over our 
fields that hear only the song of birds. And I 
should be startled myself. Ah! He was different: 
innocent of heart, and full of good will, which no- 
body wanted, this castaway, that, like a man trans- 
planted into another planet, was separated by an 
immense space from bis past and by an immense 
ignorance from bis future. His quick, fervent ut- 
terance positively shocked everybody, ' An excit- 
able devil,' they called him. One evening, in the 
tap-room of the Coach and Horses (having drunk 
[198] 



AMY FOSTER 

some whisky), he upset them all by singing a love 
song of his country. They hooted him down, and 
he was pained ; but Preble, the lame wheelwright, 
and Vincent, the fat blacksmith, and the other nota- 
bles too, wanted to drink their evening beer in 
peace. On another occasion he tried to show them 
how to dance. The dust rose in clouds from the 
sanded floor; he leaped straight up amongst the 
deal tables, struck his heels together, squatted on 
one heel in front of old Preble, shooting out. the 
other leg, uttered wild and exulting cries, jumped up 
to whirl on one foot, snapping his fingers above his 
head — and a strange carter who was having a drink 
in there began to swear, and cleared out with his 
half-pint in his hand into the bar. But when sud- 
denly he sprang upon a table and continued to 
dance among the glasses, the landlord interfered. 
He didn't want any ' accrobat tricks in the tap- 
room.' They laJd their hands on him. Having 
had a glass or two, Mr. SwafFcr's foreigner tried 
to expostulate: was ejected forcibly: got a black 
eye, 

" I believe he felt the hostilityof his-human snr= 

roundings. But he was tough — tough in spirit, 
[199] 



AMY FOSTER 

too, as well as in body. Only the memory of the 
sea frightened him, with that vague terror that is 
left by a bad dream. His home vas far away ; and 
ho did not want now to go to America. I had often 
explained to him that there is no place on earth 
where true gold can be found lying ready and to be 
got for the trouble of the picking up. How then, 
he asked, could he ever return home with empty 
hands when there had been sold a cow, two ponies, 
and a bit of land to pay for his going? His eyes 
would fill with tears, and, averting them from the 
immense shimmer of the sea, he would throw him- 
self face down on the grass. But sometimes, cock- 
ing his hat with a little conquering air, he would 
defy my wisdom. He had found his bit of true 
gold. That was Amy Foster's heart ; which was ' a 
golden heart, and soft to people's misery,' he 
would say in the accents of overwhelming convic- 
tion. 

" He was called Yanko. He had explained that 
this meant httle John ; but as he would also repeat 
very often that he was a mountaineer (some word 
sounding in the dialect of his country like Gloorall) 
he got it for his surname. And this is the only 
[200] 



AMY FOSTER 

trace of him that the succeeding ages may find in 
the marriage register of tlie parish, Tlierc it 
stands — Yanko Goorall — in the rector's handwrit- 
ing. The crooked cross made bj the castaway, a 
cross whose tracing no doubt seemed to him the 
most solemn part of the whole ceremony, is all that 
remains now to perpetuate the memory of his name. 

" His courtship had lasted some time — ever since 
he got his precarious footing in the community. It 
began by his buying for Amy Foster a green satin 
ribbon in Darnford. This was what you did in his 
country. You bought a ribbon at a Jew's stall on 
a fair-day. I don't suppose the girl knew what to 
do with it, but he seemed to think that his honoura- 
ble intentions could not be mistaken. 

" It was only when he declared his purpose to 
get married that I fully understood how, for a hun- 
dred futile and inappreciable reasons, how — shall 
I say odious? — he was to all the countryside. 
Every old woman in the village was up in arms. 
Smith, coming upon him near the farm, promised 
to break his head for him if he found him about 
again. But he twisted his little black moustaclie 
with such a bellicose air and rolled such big, black 
[SOI] 



AMY FOSTER 
fierce eyes at Smith that this proiniae came to noth- 
ing. Smith, however, told the girl that she must 
be mad to take up with a man wlio was surely wrong 
in his head. All the same, when she heard him in 
the gloaming whistle from beyond the orchard a 
couple of bars of a weird and mournful tune, she 
would drop whatever she had in her hand — she 
would leave Mrs. Smith in the middle of a sentence 
— and she would run out to his call. Mrs. Smith 
called her a shameless hussy. She answered noth- 
ing. She said nothing at all to anybody, and went 
on her way as if she had been deaf. She and I alone 
all in the land, I fancy, could see his very real 
beauty. He was very good-looking, and most 
graceful in his bearing, with that something wild 
as of a woodland creature in his aspect. Her moth- 
er moaned over her dismally whenever the girl came 
to see her on her day out. The father was surly, 
but pretended not to know ; and Mrs. Finn once 
told her plainly that ' this man, my dear, will do 
you some harm some day yet.' And so it went on. 
They could be seen on the roads, she tramping stol- 
idly In her finery — grey dress, black feather, stout 
boots, prominent white cotton gloves that caught 
[202] 



AMY FOSTER 

jour eye a hundred yards away; and he, his coat 
slung picturesquely over one shoulder, pacing by 
her side, gallant of bearing and casting tender 
glances upon the girl with the golden heart. I 
wonder whether he saw how plain she was. Perhaps 
among types so different from what he had ever 
seen, he had not tlie power to judge; or perhaps 
he was seduced by the divine quality of her 
pity. 

*' Yanko was in great trouble meantime. In his 
country you get an old man for an ambassador in 
marriage affairs. He did not know how to pro- 
ceed. However, one day in the midst of sheep in a 
field (he was now Swaffer's under-shepherd with 
Foster) he took off his hat to the father and de- 
clared himself humbly. ' I daresay she's fool 
enough to marry you,' was all Foster said. ' And 
then,' he used to relate, ' he puts his hat on his head, 
looks black at me as if ho wanted to cut my throat, 
whistles the dog, and off lie goes, leaving me to do 
the work.' The Fosters, of course, didn't like to 
lose the wages the girl earned : Amy used to give all 
her money to her mother. But there was in Foster 
a very genuine aversion to that match. He con^ 
[203] 




AMY FOSTER 
tended that the fellow was very good with sheep, 
but was not fit for any girl to marry. For one 
thing, he used to go along the hedges muttering to 
himself like a dam' fool ; and then, these foreign- 
ers behave very queerly to women sometimes. And 
perhaps he would want to carry her off somewhere 
— or run off himself. It was not safe. He 
preached it to liis daughter that the fellow might 
ill-use her In some way. She made no answer. It 
was, they said in the village, as if the man had. done 
something to her. People discussed the matter. It 
was quite an excitement, and the two went on 
'walking out' together in the face of opposition. 
Then something unexpected happened. 

" I don't know whether old Swaffcr ever under- 
stood how much he was regarded in the light of a 
father by his foreign retainer. Anyway the rela- 
tion was curiously feudal. So when Yanko asked 
formally for an interview — ' and the Miss too ' (he 
called the severe, deaf Miss Swaffcr simply MUs) 
— it was to obtain their permission to marry. 
Swaffer heard him unmoved, dismissed him by a 
nod, and then shouted the intelligence into Misa 
Swaffer's best ear. She showed no surprise, and 
[204,] 



AMY FOSTER 

onlj remarked grimly, in a veiled blank voice, ' He 
certainly won't get any other girl to marry him.' 

" It is Miss Swaffer who has all the credit of the 
munificence: but in a very few days it came out 
that Mr. SwafFer had presented Yanko with a cot- 
tage (the cottage you've seen this morning) and 
something like an acre of ground — had made it 
over to him in absolute property. Willcox expe- 
dited the deed, and I remember liim telling me he 
had a great pleasure in making it ready. It re- 
cited : ' In consideration of saving the life of my 
beloved grandchild, Bertha Willcox.' 

" Of course, after that no power on earth coiJd 
prevent them from getting married. 

" Her infatuation endured. People saw her go- 
ing out to meet him in the evening, she standing 
with unblinking, fascinated eyes up the road where 
he was expected to appear, walking freely, with a 
swing from the lup, and humming one of the love- 
tunes of his country. When the boy was bom, he 
got elevated at the ' Coach and Horses,' essayed 
again a song and a dance, and was again ejected. 
People expressed their commiseration for a woman 
married to that Jack-in-the-box. He didn't care. 
[ 205 ] 



AMT POSTEB 
K iM* «■«■•» (k tail ■ 



pii«B leap ifiitj of riKp» hemo- m b^f . Ins 
hetmvttj*. lMgMtiM.Mdaafat:biitftaKM 
to BK Bov n Jf_^ net of liifte _bed Ja^m Aacmn 
titmer rotmd him already. 

"One (Jar I net Iobi an Uie footftit avrr the 
Talfoord HHL He told me that * wvmoL wcr fan- 
nj.* I had beard abeadj of doMEstic «£f erencea- 
People wefv sajing that Amy Foafar was be^n- 
ning to find oat what sort of naa Jat hod manied. 
, He locked upon the sea with infffcreiit, unseong 
eye*. H'a wife had snatched the child oat of his 
arms one dar an he iat on the doorstep croooing to 
it a *fmg mch as the mrAhers sisg to habies in his 
motuitains. She seemed to think be was doing it 
some harm. Women are fannv. And she had ob- 
jected to him praying aloud in the evening. Why ? 
He expected the boy to repeat the prayar aloud 
after him by-and-by, as he used to do after his old 
father when he was a child — in his own country. 
And I discovered he longed for their boy to grow 
[806] 



AMY FOSTER 

up so that he could have a man to talk with in that 
language that to our ears sounded so disturbing, 
so passionate, and so bizarre. Why his wife 
should dislike the idea he couldn't tell. But that 
would pass, he said. And tilting his head know- . 
inglj, he tapped his breastbone to indicate that she 
had a good heart : not hard, not fierce, open to corn- 
passion, charitable to the poor ! 

" I walked away thoughtfully ; I wondered 
whether his difference, his strangeness, were not 
penetrating with repulsion that dull nature they 
had begun by irresistibly attracting. I won- 
dered. . . ." 

The Doctor came to the window and looked out 
at the frigid splendour of the sea, immense in 
the haze, as if enclosing all the earth with all 
the hearts lost among the passions of love and 
fear. 

" Physiologically, now," he said, turning away 
abruptly, " it was possible. It was possible." 

He remained silent. Then went on— 

" At all events, the next time I saw him he was 

ill — lung trouble. He was tough, but I daresay he 

was not acclimatised as well as I had supposed. It 

[207] 



AMY FOSTER 
was a bad winter; and) of course, these mountaiii- 
eers do get fits of home sickness ; and a state of de- 
pression would make him vulnerable. He was lying 
half dressed on a couch downstairs. 

" A table covered with a dark oilcloth took up all 
the middle of the little room. There was a wicker 
cradle on the floor, a kettle spouting steam on the 
hob, and some child's linen lay drying on the 
fender. The room was warm, but the door opens 
right into the garden, as you noticed perhaps. 

"He was very feverish, and kept on muttering 
to himself. She sat on a chair and looked at him 
fixedly across the tabic with her brown, blurred 
eyes. 'Why don't you have him upstairs?' I 
asked. With a start and a confused stammer she 
said, * Oh ! ah ! I couldn't sit with him upstairs. 
Sir.' 

"I gave her certain directions; and going out- 
side, I said again that he ought to be in bed up- 
stairs. She wrung her hands. ' I couldn't. I 
couldn't. He keeps on saying something— I don't 
know what,' With the memory of all the talk 
against the man that had been dinned into her ears, 
1 looked at her narrowly, I looked into her short- 
[gOS] 



AMY FOSTER 
sighted eyes, at her dumb eyes that once in her life 
had seen an enticing shape, but Beemed, staring at 
me, to see nothing at all how. But I saw she was 
uneasy. 

" ' What's the matter with him? ' she asked in a 
sort of vacant trepidation. ' He doesn't look very 
ill. I never did see anybody look like this be- 
fore. . . .' 

" ' Do you think,' I asked indignantly, ' he is 
shamming? ' 

" ' I can't help it, air,' she said stolidly. And 
suddenly she clapped her hands and looked right 
and left. ' And there's the baby. I am so fright- 
ened. He wanted nie just now to give him the 
baby. I can't understand what he says to it.' 

" ' Can't you ask a neighbour to come in to- 
night? ' I asked. 

" ' Please, sir, nobody seems to care to come,' she 
muttered, dully resigned all at once. 

" I impressed upon her the necessity of the 
greatest care,- and then had to go. There was a 
good deal of sickness that winter. ' Oh, I hope he 
won't talk ! ' she exclaimed softly just as I was go- 
ing away, 

[209] 




AMY FOSTER 

" I don't know how it is I did not see- — but ] 
didn't. And yet, turning in my trap, I shw her 
lingering before the door, very still, and as if med- 
itating ft flight up the miry road. 

" Towards the night his fever increased. 

" He tossed, moaned, and now and then muttered 
a complaint. And she sat witli the table between 
her and the couch, watching every movement and 
every sound, with the terror, the unreasonable ter- 
ror, of that man she could not understand creeping 
over her. She had drawn the wicker cradle close 
to her feet. There was nothing in her now but tl^ 
maternal instinct and that unaccountable fear. 

" Suddenly coming to himself, parched, he de- 
manded a drink of water. She did not move. She 
had not understood, though he may have thought 
he was speaking in English. He waited, looking at 
her, burning with fever, amazed at her silence and 
immobility, and then he shouted impatiently, 
' Water ! Give me water ! ' 

" She jumped to her feet, snatched up the child, 
and stood still. He spoke to her, and his passion- 
ate remonstrances only increased her fear of that 
strange man. I believe he spoke to her for a long 
[210] 



AMY FOSTER 
time, entreating, wondering, pleading, ordering, I 
suppose. She says she bore it as long as she could. 
And then a gust of rage came over him. 

" He sat up and called out terribly one word — 
some word. Then he got up as though he hadn't 
heen ill at all, she says. And as in fevered dismay, 
indignation, and wonder he tried to get to her 
round the table, she simply opened the door and ran 
out with the child in her amis. She heard him call 
twice after her down the road in a terrible voice- — 
and fled. ... Ah ! but you should have seen stir- 
ring behind the dull, blurred glance of these eyes 
the spectre of the fear which had hunted her on 
that night three miles and a half to the door of Fos- 
ter's cottage ! I did the next day. 

" And it was I who found him lying face down 
and his body in a puddle, just outside the little 
wicker-gate. 

" I had been called out that night to an urgent 
case in the viUage, and on my way home at day- 
break passed by the cottage. The door stood open. 
My man helped me to carry him in. We laid him 
on the couch. The lamp smoked, the fire was out, 
the chill of the stormy night oozed from the cheer- 
[211] 





^ 



AMY FOSTER 
less yellow paper on the wall. ' Amy ! ' I called 
aloud, and my voice seemed to lose itself in the 
emptiness of this tiny house as if I had cried in a 
desert. He opened his eyes. ' Gone ! ' he said dis- 
tinctly. 'I had only asked for water— only for a 
little water. . , .' 

" He was muddy. I covered htm up and stood 
waiting in silence, catching a painfully gasped 
word now and then. They were no longer in his 
own language. The fever had left liim, taking 
with it the heat of life. And with his panting 
breast and lustrous eyes he reminded me again of a 
wild creature under the net ; of a bird caught in a 
snare. She had left him. She had left him— sick 
— helpless— thirsty. The spear of the hunter had 
entered his very soul. ' Why ? ' he cried in the pen- 
etrating and indignant voice of a man calling to a 
responsible Maker. A gust of wind and a swish of 
rain answered. 

" And as I turned away to shut the door he pro- 
nounced the word ' Merpiful ! ' and expired. 

" Eventually I certified heart-failure as the im- 
mediate cause of death. His heart must have in- 
deed failed him, or else he might have stood this 
[812] 



AMY FOSTER 
night of storm and exposure, too. I closed his eyes 
and drove away. Not very far from the cottage I 
met Foster walking sturdily between the dripping 
hedges with Ins collie at his heels. 

"'Do you know where your daughter is?' I 
asked. 

*' ' Don't I ! ' he cried. ' I am going to talk to 
him a bit. Frightening a poor woman like this.' 

" ' He won't frighten her any more,' I said. 
' He is dead.' 

" He struck with his stick at the mud. 

" ' And there's the child.' 

" Then, after thinking deeply for a whil& — 

" ' I don't know that it isn't for the best.' 

" That's what he said. And she says nothing at 
all now. Not a word of him. Never. Is his im- 
age as utterly gone from her mind as his lithe and 
striding figure, his carolling voice are gone from 
our fields? He is no longer before her eyes to ex- 
cite her imagination into a passion of love or fear; 
and his memory seems to have vanished from her 
dull brain as a shadow passes away upon a white 
screen. She lives in the cottage and works for Miss 
Swaffer. She is Amy Foster for everybody, and 
[213] 



AMY FOSTER 
the child is ' Amy Foster's boy.' She calls him 
Johnny — which means LitUe John. 

*' It is impossible to say whether this name re- 
calls anything to her. Does she ever think of the 
past? I have seen her hanging over the boy's cot 
in a very passion of maternal tenderness. The lit- 
; tie fellow was lying on Iiis back, a little frightened 
I at me, but very still, with his big black eyes, with 
his fluttered air of a bird in a snare. And looking 
!at him I seemed to see again the other one — the 
Ifather, cast out mysteriously by the sea to perish 
in the supreme disaster of loneliness and despair^ 



[SU] 



TO-MORROW 




What was known of Captain Hagberd in the little 
seaport of Colebrook was not exactly in his favour. 
He did not belong to the place. He had come to 
settle there under circumstances not at all myste- 
rious — he used to be very communicative about 
them at the time — but extremely morbid and un- 
reasonable. He was possessed of some little money 
evidently, because he bought a plot of ground, and 
had a pair of ugly yellow brick cottages run up 
very cheaply. He occupied one of them himself 
and let the other to Josiah Carvil — -blind Carvil, 
the retired boat-builder — a man of evil repute as a 
domestic tyrant. 

These cottages had one wall in common, shared 
in a line of iron railing dividing their front gar- 
dens ; a wooden fence separated their back gardens. 
Miss Bessie Carvil was allowed, as it were of right, 
to throw over it the tea-cloths, blue rags, or an 
apron that wanted drying. 



TO-MORROW 

'* It rots the wood, Bessie my girl," the captain 
would remark mildly, from his side of the fence, 
each time he saw her esercising that privilege. 

She was a tall girl ; the fence was low, and 
she could spread her elbows on the top. Her hands 
would be red with the bit of washing she had done, 
but her forearms were white and shapely, and she 
would look at her father's landlord in silence — in 
an informed silence which had an air of knowledge, 
expectation and desire. 

" It rots the wood," repeated Captain Hagberd. 
" It is the only unthrifty, careless habit I know in 
you. Why don't you have a clothes line out in your 
back yard ? " 

Miss Carvil would say nothing to this — she only 
shook her head negatively. The tiny back yard 
on her side had a few stone-bordered little beds of 
black earth, in wliich the simple flowers she found 
time to cultivate appeared somehow extravagantly 
overgrown, as if belonging to an exotic clime; and 
Captain Hagberd's upright, hale person, clad in 
No. 1 sail-cloth from head to foot, would be emer- 
ging knee-deep out of rank grass and the tall weeds 
on his side of the fence. He appeared, with the col- 
[218] 



TO-MORROW 
our and uncouth stiffness of the extraordinary ma- 
terial in which he chose to clothe himself — " for the 
time being," would be his mumbled remark to any 
observation on the subject — like a man roughened 
out of granite, standing in a wilderness not big 
enough for a decent billiard-room. A heavy figure 
of a man of stone, with a red handsome face, a blue 
wandering eye, and a great white board flowing 
to his waist and never trimmed as far as Colebrook 
knew. 

Seven years before, he had seriously answered, 
*' Nest month, I think," to the chaffing attempt to 
secure his custom made by that distinguished local 
wit, the Colebrook barber, who happened to be sit- 
ting insolently in the tap-room of the New Inn near 
the harbour, where the captain had entered to buy 
an ounce of tobacco. After paying for his pur- 
chase with three half-pence extracted from the cor- 
ner of a handkerchief which he carried in the cufl' 
of his sleeve, Captain Hagberd went out. As soon 
as the door was shut the barber laughed. " The 
old one and the young one will be strolling arm in 
arm to get shaved in my place presently. The 
tailor shall be set to work, and the barber, and the 
[819] 



TO-MORROW 
cuifUestick maker : high old tiioes are coming fot 
Colefarook, tbey are aiming, to be mre. It used to 
be ' next week,' now it has come to * next month,* 
and so on — soon it will be next spring, for all I 
know." 

Noticing a etranger listening to him with a va- 
cant grin, be explained, stretching out his legs cyn- 
ically, that this queer old Hagberd, a retired coast- 
ing-skipper, was waiting for the ~etam of a son of 
his. The boy had been driven away from home, he 
shouldn't wonder; had run away to sea and Imd 
nerer been heard of since. Put to rest in Davy 
Jones's locker this many s day, as hkely as not. 
That old man came flying to Colebrook three 
years ago all in black broadcloth (had lost his wife 
lately then), getting out of a third-class smokn- 
as if the devU had been at his heels ; and the only 
thing that brought him down was a letter — a hoax 
probably. Some joker had written to him about a 
seafaring man with some such name who was sup- 
posed to be hanging about some girl or other, either 
in Colebrook or in the neighbourhood. " Funny, 
ain't itP " The old chap had been advertising in 
the London papers for Harrj Hagberd, and offer- 
[2a0] 



TO-MORROW 

ing rewards for any sort of likely information. 
And the barber would go on to describe with sar- 
donic gusto, how that stranger in mourning had 
been seen exploring the country, in carts, on foot, 
taking everybody into his confidence, visiting all 
the inns and alehouses for miles around, stopping 
people on the road with his questions, looking into 
the very ditches almost ; first in the greatest excite- 
ment, then with a plodding sort of perseverance, 
growing slower and slower; and lie could not even 
tell you plainly how his son looked. The sailor 
was supposed to be one of two that had left a tim- 
ber ship, and to have been seen dangling after some 
girl; but the old man described a boy of fourteen 
or so — " a clever-looking, high-spirited boy." And 
when people only smiled at this he would rub his 
forehead in a confused sort of way before he slunk 
off, looking offended. He found nobody, of 
course ; not a trace of anybody — never beard of 
anything worth belief, at any rate ; but he liad not 
been able somehow to tear himself away from Cole- 
brook. 

" It was the shock of this disappointment, per- 
haps, coming soon after the loss of his wife, that 
[221] 




TO-MORROW 

had driven him crazy on that point," the barber 
suggested, with an air of great psychological in- 
sight. After a time the old man abandoned the ac- 
tive search. His son had evidently gone away; 
but he settled himself to wait. His son had been 
once at least in Colebrook in preference to his na- 
tive place. There must have been some reason for 
it, he seemed to think, some very powerful induce- 
ment, that would bring him back to Colebrook 

" Ha, ha, ha ! Why, of course, Colebrook. 
Where else? That's the only place in the United 
Kingdom for your long-lost sons. So lie sold up 
his old home in Colchester, and down he comes here. 
Well, it's a craze, like any other. Wouldn't catch 
me going crazy over any of my youngsters clear- 
ing out. I've got eight of them at home." The 
barber was showing off his strength of mind in the 
midst of a laughter that shook the tap-room. 

Strange, though, that sort of thing, he would 
confess, with the frankness of a superior intelli- 
gence, seemed to be catching. His establishment, 
for instance, was near the harbour, and whenever a 
sailorman came in for a hair-cut or a shave — if it 

[aas] 



TO-MORROW 

was a strange face he couldn't help thinking di- 
rectly, " Suppose he's the son of old Hagberd ! " 
He laughed at himself for it. It was a strong 
craze. He could remember the time when the whole 
town was full of it. But he had his hopes of the 
old chap yet. He would cure him by a course of 
judicious chaffing. He was watching the progress 
of the treatment. Nest week— next month — next 
year! When the old skipper had put off the date 
of that return till next year, he would be well on 
his way to not saying any more about it. In other 
matters he was quite rational, so this, too, was 
bound to come. Such was the barber's firm opin- 
ion. 

Nobody had ever contradicted him ; his own hair 
had gone grey since that time, and Captain Hag- 
berd's beard had turned quite white, and had ac- 
quired a majestic flow over the No. 1 canvas suit, 
which he had made for himself secretly with tarred 
twine, and had assumed suddenly, coming out in 
it one fine morning, whereas the evening before he 
had been seen going home in his mourning of 
broadcloth. It caused a sensation in the High 
Street — shopkeepers coming to their doors, people 
[883] 



TO-MORROW 

in the houses snatching up their hats to run out — 
a stir at which he seemed strangely surprised at 
first, and then scared ; but his only answer to the 
wondering questions was tluit startled and evasive, 
" For the present," 

That sensation had been forgotten, long ago; 
and Captain Hagbord himself, if not forgotten, 
had come to bo disregarded— the penalty of daili- 
ncss — as the sun itself is disregarded unless it 
makes its power felt heavily. Captain Hagberd's 
movemonta showed no infirmity: he walked stiffly 
in his suit of canvas, a quaint and remarkable fig- 
ure ; only his eyes wandered more furtively perhaps 
than of yore. His manner abroad bad lost its ex- 
citable watchfulness; it had become puzzled and 
diffident, as tliough he had suspected that there 
was somewhere about him something slightly com- 
promising, some embarrassing oddity ; and yet had 
remained unable to discover what on earth this 
something wrong could be. 

He was unwilling now to talk with the townsfolk. 

He bad earned for himself the reputation of an 

awful skinflint, of a miser in the matter of living. 

He mumbled regretfully in the shops, bought in- 

[224] 



TO-MORROW 

ferior scraps of meat after long hesitations ; and 
discouraged all allusions to his costume. It was 
as the barber had foretold. For all one could tell, 
he had recovered already from the disease of hope ; 
and only Miss Bessie Carvil knew that he said noth- 
ing about his son's return because with him it was 
no longer " nest week," " next month," or even 
" next year." It was " to-morrow." 

In their intimacy of back yard and front gar- 
den he talked with her paternally, reasonably, and 
dogmatically, with a touch of arbitrariness. They 
met on the ground of unreserved confidence, which 
was authenticated by an affectionate wink now and 
then. Miss Carvil had come to look forward rather 
to these winks. At first they had discomposed her: 
the poor fellow was mad. Afterwards she had 
learned to laugh at them: there was no harm in 
him. Now she was aware of an unacknowledged, 
pleasurable, incredulous emotion, expressed by a 
faint blush. He winked not in the least vulgarly ; 
his thin red face with a well-modelled curved nose, 
had a sort of distinction— the more so that when he 
talked to her he looked with a steadier and more in- 
telligent glance. A handsome, hale, upright, ca- 
[225] 




TO-MORROW 
pable man, with a white beard. You did not thinlc 
of his age. His son, lie affirmed, had resembled 
him amazingly from his earliest babyhood. 

Harry would be one-and-thirty next July, he 
declared. Proper age to get married with a nice, 
sensible girl that could appreciate a good home. 
He was a very high-spirited boy. High-spirited 
husbands were the easiest to manage. Tliese mean, 
soft chaps, that you would think butter wouldn't 
melt in their mouths, were the ones to make a wom- 
an thoroughly miserable. And there was nothing 
like a home — a fireside — a good roof: no turning 
out of your warm bed in all sorts of weather. " Eh, 
my dear? " 

Captain Hagberd had been one of those sailors 
that pursue their calling within sight of land. One 
of the many children of a bankrupt farmer, he had 
been apprenticed hurriedly to a coasting skipper, 
and had remained on the coast all liis sea life. It 
must have been a hard one at first: he had never 
taken to it; his affection turned to the land, with 
its innumerable houses, with its quiet lives gathered 
round its firesides. Many sailors feel and profess 
a rational dislike for the sea, but his was a pro- 
[226] 



TO-MORROW 

found and emotional animosity — as if the love of 
the stabler element had been bred into him through 
many generations. 

" People did not know what they let their boys in 
for when they let them go to sea," he expounded to 
Bessie. " As soon make convicts of them at once." 
He did not believe you ever got used to it. The 
wearinesH of such a life got worse as you got older. 
What sort of trade was it in which more than half 
your time you did not put your foot inside your 
house F Directly you got out to sea you bad no 
means of knowing what went on at home. One 
might have thought him weary of distant voyages ; 
and the longest he had ever made had lasted a fort- 
night, of which the most part had been spent at 
anchor, sheltering from the weather. As soon as 
his wife had inherited a bouse and enough to live on 
( from a bachelor uncle who had made some money 
in the coal business) he threw up his command of 
an East-coast collier with a feeling as tliough be 
had escaped from the galleys. After all these years 
he might have counted on the fingers of his two 
bands all the days be had been out of sight of Eng- 
land. He had never known what it was to be out 
[227] 




TO-MORROW 

of soundings. " I have never been further than 
eighty fathoms from the land," was on 
boasts. 

BesHie Carvil heard all these things. In front of 
their cottage grew an undcr-Bi2ed ash ; and on sum- 
mer afternoons she would bring out a chair on the 
grass-plot and sit down with her sewing. Captain 
Hagberd, in his canvas suit, leaned on a spade. He 
dug every day in his front plot. He turned it over 
and over several times every year, but was not go- 
ing to plant anything " just at present." 

To Bessie Carvil he would state more explicitly : 
" Not till our Harry comes home to-morrow." And 
she had heard this formula of hope so often that it 
only awakened the vaguest pity in her heart for 
that hopeful old man. 

Everything was put off in that way, and every- 
thing was being prepared likewise for to-morrow. 
There was a boxful of packets of various flower- 
seeds to choose from, for the front garden. " He 
will doubtless let you have your say about that, my 
dear," Captain Hagberd intimated to her across 
the railing. 

[S38] 



TO-MORROW 

Miss Bessie's head remained bowed over her 
work. She }iad heard all this so many times. But 
now and then she would rise, lay down her sewing, 
and come slowly to the fence. There was a charm 
in tliese gentle ravings. He was determined that 
Itis son fihoiild not go away again for the want of a 
homp all ready for liim. He had been filling the 
other cottage with all sorts of furniture. She im- 
agined it all new, fresh with varnish, piled up as 
in a warehouse. There would be tables wrapped 
up in sacking; rolls of carpets thick and vertical 
like fragments of columns, the gleam of white mar- 
ble tops in the dimness of the drawn blinds. Cap- 
tain Hagberd always described his purchases to 
her, carefully, as to a person having a legitimate 
interest in them. The overgrown yard of his cot- 
tage could be laid over with concrete . . . after 
to-morrow. 

" We may just as well do away with the fence. 
You could have your drying-line out, quite clear of 
your flowers." He winked, and she would blush 
faintly. 

This madness that had entered her life through 

the kind impulses of her heart had reasonable de- 

[229] 



TO-MORROW 
tails. What if some day his son returned? But 
she could not even be quite sure that he ever had a 
Bon; and if he existed anywhere he had been too 
long away. When Captain Hagberd got excited 
in his talk she would steady him by a pretence of 
belief, laughing a little to salve her conscience. 

Only once she had tried pityingly to throw some 
doubt on that hope doomed to disappointment, but 
the effect of her attempt had scared her very much. 
All at once over that man's face there came an ex- 
pression of horror and incredulity, as though he 
had ^een a crack open out in the firmament. 

" You— you — you don't think he's drowned ! " 

For a moment he seemed to her ready to go out 
of his mind, for in his ordinary state she thought 
him more sane than people gave him credit for. 
On that occasion the violence of the emotion was 
followed by a most paternal and complacent re- 
covery. 

" Don't alarm yourself, ray dear," he said a lit- 
tle cunningly : " the sea can't keep him. He does 
not belong to it. None of us Hagberds ever did 
belong to it. Look at me; I didn't get drowned. 
Moreover, he isn't a sailor at all ; and if he is not a 
[S30] 




TO-MORHOW 
sailor he's bound to come back. Tliere's nothing 
to prevent him coming back. . . ." 

His eyes began to wander. 

" To-morrow." 

She never tried again, for fear the man should 
go out of his mind on the spot. He depended on 
her. She seemed the only sensible person in the 
town ; and he would congratulate himself frankly 
before her face on having secured such a level- 
headed wife for his son. The rest of the town, he 
confided to her once, in a fit of temper, was certainly 
queer. The way they looked at you — the way thej 
talked to you ! He had never got on with any one 
in the place. Didn't like the people. He would 
not have left his own country if it had not been 
clear that his son had taken a fancy to Colebrook. 

She humoured him in silence, listening patiently 
by the fence; crocheting with downcast eyes. 
Blushes came with difficulty on her dead-white 
complexion, under the negligently twisted opu- 
lence of mahogany-coloured hair. Her father was 
frankly carroty. 

She had a full figure ; a tired, unref reshed face. 

When Captain Hagberd vaunted the necessity and 

[831] 



1 



TO-MORROW 
propriety of a home and the delights of one's own 
fireside, she smiled a little, with her lips only. Her 
liome delights had hecn confined to the nursing of 
her father during the ten best years of her life. 

A bestial roaring coming out of an upstairs win- 
dow would interrupt their talk. She would begin 
at once to roll up her crochet-work or fold her sew- 
ing, without the slightest sign of haste. Mean- 
while the howls and roars of her name would go on, 
making the fishermen strolling upon the sea-wall 
on the other side of the road turn their heads to- 
wards the cottages. She would go in slowly at the 
front door, and a moment afterwards there would 
fall a profound silence. Presently she would re- 
appear, leading by the hand a man, gross and un- 
wieldy like a hippopotamus, with a bad-tempered, 
surly face. 

He was a widowed boat-builder, whom blindness 
had overtaken years before in the full flush of busi- 
ness. He behaved to his daughter as if she had 
been responsible for its incurable character. He 
had been heard to bellow at the top of his voice, 
as if to defy Heaven, that he did not care: he had 
made enough money to have ham and eggs for his 
[SS8] 



TO-MORROW 
breakfast every morning. He thanked God for it, 
in a fiendish tone as though he were cursing. 

Captain Hagbcrd had been so unfavourably im- 
pressed by his tenant, that once he told Miss Bes- 
sie, " He is a very extravagant fellow, my dear." 

She was knitting that day, finishing a pair of 
socks for her father, who expected her to keep up 
the supply dutifully. She hated knitting, and, as 
she was just at the heel part, she had to keep her 
eyes on her needles. 

" Of course it isn't as if he had a son to provide 
for," Captain Hagberd went on a little vacantly. 
" Girls, of course, don't require so much— h'm — 
h'm. They don't run away from home, my dear." 

" No," said Miss Bessie, quietly. 

Captain Hagberd, amongst the mounds of 
turned-up earth, chuckled. With his maritime rig, 
his weather-beaten face, his beard of Father Nep- 
tune, he resembled a deposed sea-god who had ex- 
changed the trident for the spade. 

" And he must look upon you as already pro- 
vided for, in a manner. That's the best of it with 
the girls. The husbands . . ." He winked. Miss 
Bessie, absorbed in her knitting, coloured faintly, 
[233] 



TO-MORROW 

" Bessie ! my hat ! " old Carvil bellowed out sud- 
denly. He had been sitting under the tree mute 
and motionless, like an idol of sonie remarkably 
monstrous superstition. He never opened his 
mouth but to howl for her, at her, sometimes about 
her ; and then he did not moderate the terras of his 
abuse. Her system was never to answer liim at all ; 
and he kept up his shouting till he got attended to 
— till she shook him by the arm, or thrust the 
mouthpiece of his pipe between his teeth. He was 
one of the few blind people who smoke. When he 
felt the hat being put on his head he stopped his 
noise at once. Then he rose, and they passed to- 
gether through the gate. 

He weighed heavily on her arm. During their 
alow, toilful walks she appeared to be dragging 
with her for a penance the burden of that infirm 
bulk. Usually they crossed the road at once (the 
cottages stood in the fields near the harbour, two 
hundred yards away from the end of the street), 
and for a long, long time they would remain in 
view, ascending imperceptibly the flight of wooden 
steps that led to the top of the sea-wall. It ran 
on from east to west, shutting out the Channel like 

[as4] 



TO-MORROW 

a neglected railway embankment, on which no train 
had ever rolled within memory of man. Groupa 
of sturdy fishermen would emerge upon the sky, 
walk along for a bit, and sink without haste. Their 
brown nets, like the cobwebs of gigantic spiders, 
lay on the shabby grass of the slope ; and, looking 
up from the end of the street, the people of the 
town would recognise the two Carvils by the creep- 
ing slowness of their gait. Captain Hagberd, pot- 
tering aimlessly about his cottages, would raise his 
head to see how they got on in their promenade. 

He advertised still in the Sunday papers for 
Harry Hagberd. These sheets were read in for- 
eign parts to the end of the world, he informed Bes- 
sie. At the same time he seemed to think that his 
son was in England— so near to Colebrook that he 
would of course turn up " to-morrow." Bessie, 
without committing herself to that opinion in so 
many words, argued that in that case the expense 
of advertising was unnecessary; Captain Hagberd 
had better spend that weekly half-crown on him- 
self. She declared she did not know what he lived 
on. Her argumentation would puzzle him and cast 
[886] 




T - iM O R R O W 
him down for a time. " They all do it," he pointed 
out. There was a whole column devoted to appeals 
after missing relatives. He would bring the news- 
paper to show her. He and his wife had advertised 
for jcars ; only she was an impatient woman. The 
news from Colebrook had arrived the very day after 
her funeral; if she had not been so impatient she 
might have been here now, with no more than one 
day more to wait, " You arc not an impatient 
woman, my dear." 

** I've no patience with you sometimes," she 
would say. 

If he still advertised for his son he did not offer 
rewards for information any more; for, with the 
muddled lucidity of a mental derangement he had 
reasoned himself into a conviction as clear as day- 
light that he had already attained all that could be 
expected in that way. What more could he want? 
Colebrook was the place, and there was no need to 
ask for more. Miss Carvil praised him for his good 
sense, and he was soothed by the part she took in 
his hope, which had become his delusion; in that 
idea which blinded his mind to truth and probabil- 
ity, just as the other old man in the other cottage 
[836] 



TO-MORROW 

liad been made blind, by another disease, to the 
light and beauty of the world. 

But anything he could interpret as a doubt — 
any coldness of assent, or even a simple inattention 
to the development of his projects of a home with 
his returned son and his son's wife — would irritate 
him into flings and jerks and wicked side glances. 
He would dash his spade into the ground and walk 
to and fro before it. Miss Bessie called it his tan- 
trums. She shook her finger at him. Then, when 
she came out again, after he had parted with her 
in anger, he would watch out of the corner of his 
eyes for the least sign of encouragement to ap- 
proach the iron railings and resume his fatherly 
and patronising relations. 

For all their intimacy, which had lasted sonic 
years now, they had never talked without a fenci! 
or a railing between them. He described to her all 
the splendours accumulated for the setting-up of 
their housekeeping, but had never invited her to an 
inspection. No human eye was to behold them till 
Harry had his first look. In fact, nobody had ever 
been inside his cottage : he did his own housework, 
and he guarded his son's privilege so jealously that 
[837 J 



TO-MORROW 

the Bmall objects of domestic use he bought some- 
times in the town were smuggled rapidly across the 
front garden under his canvas coat. Then, coming 
out, he would remark apologetically, " It was only 
a small kettle, my dear." 

And, if not too tired with her drudgery, or wor- 
ried beyond endurance by her father, she would 
laugli at him with a blush, and say : " That's all 
right, Captain Hagberd ; I am not impatient." 

" Well, ray dear, you haven't long to wait now," 
he would answer with a sudden bashfulness, and 
looking uneasily, as though ho had suspected that 
there was something wrong somewhere. 

Every Monday she paid him his rent over the 
railings. He clutched the shillings greedily. He 
grudged every penny he had to spend on his main- 
tenance, and when he left her to make his purchases 
his bearing changed as soon as he got into the 
street. Away from the sanction of her pity, he felt 
himself exposed without defence. He brushed the 
walls with his shoulder. He mistrusted the queer- 
ness of the people; yet, by then, even the town 
children had left off calling after him, and the 
tradesmen served him without a word. The slight- 
[238] 



TO-MORROW 

est allusion to his clothing had the power to puzzle 
and frighten especially, as if it were something 
utterly unwarranted and incomprehensible. 

In the autumn, the driving rain drummed on his 
sailcloth suit saturated almost to the stiffness of 
sheet-iron, with its surface flowing with water. 
When the weather was too bad, he retreated under 
the tinj porch, and, standing close against the 
door, looked at his spade left planted in the middle 
of the yard. The ground was so much dug up all 
over, that as the season advanced it turned to a 
quagmire. When it froze hard, he was disconso- 
late. What would Harry say? And as he could 
not have so much of Bessie's company at that time 
of the year, the roars of old Carvil, that came muf- 
fled through the closed windows, calling her in- 
doors, exasperated him greatly. 

" Why don't that extravagant fellow get you a 
servant? " he asked impatiently one mild after- 
noon. She had thrown something over her head to 
run out for a while, 

" I don't know," said the pale Bessie, wearily, 
staring away with her heavy-lidded, grey, and un- 
expectant glance. There were always smudgy 

[S39] 



TO-MORROW 

shadows under her eyes, and she did not seem able 
to see any change or any end to her life. 

" You wait till you get married, my dear," said 
her only friend, drawing closer to the fence. 
" Harry will get you one." 

His hopeful craze seemed to mock her own want 
of hope with bo bitter an aptness that in her ner- 
vous irritation she could have screamed at him out- 
right. But she only said in self -mockery, and 
speaking to him as though he had been sane, 
" Why, Captain Hagberd, your son may not even 
want to look at me." 

He £ung his head back and laughed his throaty 
aflFected cackle of anger. 

"What! That boy? Not want to look at the 
only sensible girl for miles around? What do you 
think I am here for, my dear — my dear — my dear? 
. . . What? You wait. You just wait. You'U 
see to-morrow. I'll soon " 

" Bessie ! Bessie ! Bessie ! " howled old Carvil in- 
side. " Bessie ! — my pipe ! " That fat blind man 
had given himself up to a very lust of laziness. He 
would not lift his hand to reach for the things she 
took care to leave at his very elbow. He would not 
[240] 



TO-MORROW 

move a limb; he would not rise from his chair, he 
would not put one foot before another, in that par- 
lour (where he knew his way as well as if he had his 
Bight), without calling her to his side and hanging 
all his atrocious weight on her shoulder. He would 
not eat one single mouthful of food without her 
close attendance. He had made himself helpless 
beyond his affliction, to jcnslave her better. She 
stood still for a moment, setting her teeth in the 
dusk, then turned and walked slowly indoors. 

Captain Hagberd went back to his spade. The 
shouting in Carvil*s cottage stopped, and after a 
while the window of the parlour downstairs was lit 
up. A man coming from the end of the street with 
a firm leisurely step passed on, but seemed to have 
caught sight of Captain Hagberd, because he 
turned back a pace or two. A cold white light lin- 
gered in the western sky. The man leaned over the 
gate in an interested manner. 

" You must be Captain Hagberd," he said, with 
easy assurance. 

The old man spun round, pulling out his spade, 
startled by the strange voice. 

" Yes, I am," he answered nervously. 



TO-MORROW 

The other, smiling straight at him, uttered very 
slowly : *' You've been advertising for your son, I 
believe ? " 

" My son Harry," mumbled Captain Hagberd, 
off his guard for once, " He's coming home to- 
morrow," 

" The devil he is ! " The stranger marvelled 
greatly, and then went on, witli only a slight 
change of tone : " You've grown a beard like 
Father Christmas himself." 

Captain Hagberd drew a little nearer, and 
leaned forward over his spade. " Go your way," 
he said, resentfully and timidly at the same time, 
because he was always afraid of being laughed at. 
Every mental state, even madness, has its equi- 
librium based upon self-esteem. Its disturbance 
causes unhappiness ; and Captain Hagberd lived 
amongst a scheme of settled notions which it pained 
hira to feel disturbed by people's grins. Yes, peo- 
ple's grins were awful. They hinted at something 
wrong: but what? He could not tell; and that 
stranger was obviously grinning — had come on 
purpose to grin. It was bad enough on the streets, 
but he had never before been outraged like this. 
[212] 






TO-MORROW 

The stranger, unaware how near he was of hav- 
ing his head laid open with a spade, said seriously : 
" I am not trespassing where I stand, am IF I 
fancy there's something wrong about your news. 
Suppose you let me come in." 

" You come in ! " murmured old Hagberd, with 
inexpressible horror. 

" I could give you some real information ahout 
your Hon^ — the very latest tip, if you care to 
hear." 

" No," shouted Hagberd. He began to pace 
wildly to and fro, he shouldered his spade, he ges- 
ticulated with his other arm. " Here's a fellow — 
a grinning fellow, who says there's sometliing 
wrong. I've got more information than you're 
aware of. I've all the information I want. I've 
had it for years — for years — for years — enough 
to last me till to-morrow. Let you come in, indeed ! 
What would Harry say? " 

Bessie Carvil's figure appeared in black silhou- 
ette on the parlour window : then, with the sound of 
an opening door, flitted out before the other cot- 
tage, all black, but with something white over 
her head. These two voices beginning to talk sud- 
[SIS] 



TO-MOHROW 

denly outside (she had heard them indoors) had 
given her such an emotion that she could not utter 
a sound. 

Captain Hagbcrd seemed to be trying to find his 
way out of a cage. His feet squelched in the pud- 
dles left hy his industry. He stumbled in the holes 
of the ruined grass-plot. He ran blindly against 
the fence. 

'* Here, steady a bit ! " said the man at the gate, 
gravely stretching his arm over and catching him 
by the sleeve, " Somebody's been trying to get at 
you. Hallo ! what's this rig you've'got on ? Storm 
canvas, by Gkorge ! " He had a big laugh. 
" Well, you are a. character ! " 

Captain Hagbcrd jerked himself free, and began 
to back away slirinkingly. " For the present," he 
muttered, in a crestfallen tone. 

" What's the matter with him? " The stranger 
addressed Bessie with the utmost familiarity, in a 
deliberate, explanatory tone. " I didn't want to 
startle the old man." He lowered his voice as 
though he had known her for years. " I dropped 
into a barber's on my way, to get a twopennj 
shave, and they told me tliere he was something of 
[841] 




TO-MORROW 

a character. The old man has been a character all 
hiiB life." 

Captain Hagberd, daunted by the allusion to his 
clothing, had retreated inside, taking his spade 
with him ; and the two at the gate, startled by the 
unespectcd slamming of the door, heard the bolts 
being shot, the snapping of the lock, and the echo 
of an affected gurgling laugh within, 

" I didn't want to upset him,'* the man said, 
after a sliort silence. " What's the meaning of all 
this? He isn't quite crazy." 

" He has been worrying a long time about his 
lost son," said Bessie, in a low, apologetic tone. 

" Well, I am his son." 

'* Harry ! " she cried — and was profoundly si- 
lent. 

"Know my name? Friends with the old man, 
eh?" 

" He's our landlord," Bessie faltered out, catch- 
ing hold of the iron railing. 

" Owns both them rabbit-hutches, does he? " 

commented young Hagberd, scornfully; " juat the 

thing he would be proud of. Can you tell mo who's 

that chap coming to-morrow? You must know 

[845] 



TO-MORROW 

something of it. I tell you, it's a swindle on the old 
man — nothing else." 

She did not answer, helpless before an insur- 
mountable difficulty, appalled before the necessity, 
the impossibility and the dread of an explanation 
in which she and madness seemed involved together. 

" Oh — I ttm so sorry," she murmured. 

"What's the matter?" he said, with serenity. 
" Yon needn't be afraid of upsetting me. It's the 
other fellow that'll be upset when he least espects 
it. I don't care a hang ; but there will be some fun 
when he shows his mug to-morrow. I don't care 
that for the old man's pieces, but right is right. 
You shall see me put a head on that coon — whoever 
he is!" 

He had come nearer, and towered above her on 
the other side of the railings. He glanced at her 
Ivinds. He fancied she was trembling, and it oc- 
curred to him that she had her part perhaps in that 
little game that was to be sprung on his old man 
to-morrow. He had come just in time to spoil their 
sport. He was entertained by the idea — scornful 
of the baffled plot. But all his life he had been full 
of indulgence for all sorts of women's tricks. She 
[246] 



TO-MORROW 

really was trembling very much; her wrap had 
slipped off her head. " Poor devil ! " he thought. 
" Never mind about that chap. I daresay he'll 
change his mind before to-morrow. But what 
nbout me? I can't loaf about the gate til the morn- 
ing." 

She burst out : " It ia you — you yourself that he's 
waiting for. It is y<yu, who come to-morrow." 

He murmured, "Oh! It's me!" blankly, and 
they seemed to become breathless together. Ap- 
parently he was pondering over what he had heard ; 
then, without irritation, but evidently perplexed, 
he said : " I don't understand. I hadn't written or 
anything. It's my chum who saw the paper and 
told me — this very morning, . . . Eh? what?" 

He bent his ear; she whispered rapidly, and he 
listened for a while, muttering the words " yes " 
and " I see " at times. Then, " But w\\y won't to- 
day do? " he queried at last. 

"You didn't understand me ! " she exclaimed, 
impatiently. The clear streak of hght under the 
clouds died out in the west. Again he stooped 
slightly to hear better ; and the deep night buried 
ererything of the whispering woman and the 
[2«] 



t 



TO-MORROW 

attentive man, except the familiar contiguity of 
their faces, witli its air of Becrecy and caress. 

He squared his shoulders; the broad-hriinined 
shadow of a hat sat cavalierly on his head. " Awk- 
ward this, eh? " he appealed to her. " To-morrow? 
Well, well ! Never heard tell of anything like this. 
It's all to-morrow, then, without any sort of to-day, 
as far as I can see." 

She remained still and mute. 

" And you have been encouraging tliis funny 
notion," he said. 

" I never contradicted him." 

"Why didn't you?" 

" What for should I? " she defended herself. 
" It would only liave made him misorable. He 
would have gone out of his mind." 

" His mind ! " he muttered, and heard a short 
nervous laugh from her. 

" Where was the harm? Was I to quarrel with 
the poor old man? It was easier to half believe it 
myself." 

" Aye, aye," he meditated, intelligently. " I 
suppose the old chap got around you somehow with 
his soft talk. You are good-hearted." 
[S18] 



TO-MORROW 

Her hands moved up in the dark nervously. 
" And it might have been true. It was true. It 
has come. Here it is. This is the to-morrow we 
have been waiting for." 

She drew a breath, and he said, good-huraour- 
edlj : " Aye, with the door shut. I wouldn't care 
if . . . And you think he could be brought round 
to recognise me , . . Eh? What? . . . You 
could do it? In a week you say? H'm, I daresay 
you could — but do you think I could hold out a 
week in this dead-alive place? Not me! I want 
either hard work, or an all-fired racket, or more 
space than there ia in the whole of England. I 
have been in this place, though, once before, and for 
more than a week. The old man was advertising 
for me then, and a chum I had with me had a no- 
tion of getting a couple of quid out of him by writ- 
ing a lot of silly nonsense in a letter. That lark did 
not come off, though. We had to clear out — and 
none too soon. But this time I've a chum waiting 
for me in London, and besides . . ." 

Bessie Carvil was breathing quickly. 

" What if I tried a knock at the door? " he sug- 

[24.9] 



TO-MORROW 

" Try," she said. 

Captain Hagberd's gate squeaked, and the shad- 
ow of the son moved on, then stopped with another 
deep laugh in the throat, like the father's, onlj 
soft and gentle, thrilling to the woman's heart, 
awakening to her ears. 

" He isn't frisky— is heP I woidd be afraid to 
lay hold of him. The chaps are always telling me 
I don't know my own strength." 

" He's the most harmless creature that ever 
lived," she interrupted. 

" You wouldn't say so if you had seen him chas- 
ing me upstairs with a hard leather strap," he said ; 
" I haven't forgotten it in sixteen j'ears." 

She got warm from head to foot under another 
soft, suhdued laugh. At the rat-tat-tat of the 
knocker her heart flew into her mouth. 

" Hey, dad ! Let me in. I am Harry, I am. 
Straight ! Come back home a day too soon." 

One of the windows upstairs ran up. 

" A grinning, information fellow," said the voice 
of old Hagberd, up in the darkness. " Don't you 
have anything to do with him. It will spoil every- 
thing," 

[250] 



TO-MORROW 

She heard Harry Hagberd say, " Hallo, dad," 
then a clanging clatter. The window rumbled 
down, and he stood before her again. 

"It's just like old times. Nearly walloped the 
life out of me to stop me going away, and now I 
come back he throws a confounded shovel at my 
head to keep me out. It grazed my shoulder." 

She shuddered. 

" I wouldn't care," he began, " only I spent my 
last shillings on the railway fare and my last two- 
pence on a shave— out of respect for the old man." 

"Are you really Harry Hagberd?" she asked, 
he said, jovially. " Prove with what? What do I 

" Can I prove it? Can any one else prove it? " 
he said jovially. " Prove with what? What do I 
want to prove? There isn't a single corner in the 
world, barring England, perhaps, where you could 
not find some man, or more likely woman, that 
would remember me for Harry Hagberd. I am 
more like Harry Hagberd than any man alive; and 
I can prove it to you in a minute, if you will let me 
step inside your gate." 

" Come in," she said. 

He entered then the front garden of the Carvils. 
[251] 




TO-MORROW 

His tall shadow strode with a swagger ; she turned 
her back on the window and waited, watching the 
shape, of which the footfalls sccnicd the most mate- 
rial part. The light fell on a tilted hat ; a power- 
ful shoulder, that seemed to cleave the darkness; 
on a leg stepping out. He swung about and stood 
still, facing the illuminated parlour window at her 
back, turning his head from side to side, laughing 
softly to himself. 

" Just fancy, for a minute, the old man's beard 
stuck on to my chin. Hey? Now say. I was the 
very spit of him from a boy." 

" It's true," she murmured to herself. 

" And that's about as far as it goes. He was al- 
ways one of your domestic characters. Wliy, I re- 
member how he used to go about looking very sick 
for three days before he had to leave home on one 
of his trips to South Shields for coal. He had a 
standing charter from the gas-works. You would 
think he was off on a whaling cruise — three years 
and a tail. Ha, ha ! Not a bit of it. Ten days on 
the outside. The Skimmer of the Seat was a smart 
craft. Fine name, wasn't it? Mother's uncle 
owned her. . . ." 

[263] 




He interrupted himself, and in a lowered voice, 
*' Did he ever tell you what mother died of? " he 
asked. 

" Yes," said Miss Bessie, bitterly ; " from impa- 
tience." 

He made no sound for a while; then brusquely: 
" They were so afraid I would turn out badly that 
they fairly drove me away. Mother nagged at me 
for being idle, and the old man said he would cut 
my soul out of my body rather than let me go to 
sea. Well, it looked as if he would do it too — so I 
went. It looks to me sometimes as it I had been 
born to them by a mistake — in that other butch of 

" Where ought you to have been born by 
rights? " Bessie Carvil interrupted him, defiantly, 

" In the open, upon a beach, on a windy night," 
he said, quick as lightning. Then he mused slowly. 
" They were characters, both of them, by George ; 
and the old man keeps it up well — don't he? A 
damned shovel on the- — —Hark ! who's that mak- 
ing that row? ' Bessie, Bessie,' It's in your 
house." 

" It's for me," she said, with indiiference. 
[ 853 ] 



TO-MORROW 

He stepped aside, out of the streak of light. 
" Your husband ? " he inquired, with the tone of a 
man accustomed to unlawful trysts. " Fine voice 
for a ship's deck in a thundering squall." 

"No; my father. I am not married." 

** You seem a fine girl. Miss Bessie, dear,"' he said 
at once. 

She turned her face away. 

" Oh, I say,- — what's up? Who's murdering 
him? " 

" He wants his tea." She faced him, still and 
tall, with averted head, with her hands hanging 
clasped before her. 

" Hadn't you better go in? " he suggested, after 
watching for a while the nape of her neck, a patch 
of dazzling white skin and soft shadow above the 
sombre hne of her shoulders. Her wrap had slipped 
down to her elbows, *' You'll have all the town 
coming out presently. I'll wait here a bit." 

Her wrap fell to the ground, and he stooped to 
pick it up; she had vanished. He threw it over 
his arm, and approaching the window squarely he 
saw a monstrous form of a fat man in an arm- 
chair, an unshaded lamp, the yawning of an enor- 
[854] 



TO-MORROW 

inous mouth in a big flat face encircled by a ragged 
halo of hair — Miss Bessie's head and bust. The 
shouting stopped; the blind ran down. He lost 
himself in thinking how awkward it was. Father 
mad ; no getting into the house. No money to get 
back; a hungry chum in London who would begin 
to think he had been given the go-by, " Damn ! " 
be muttered. He could break the door in, cer- 
tainly ; but they would perhaps bundle him into 
chokej for that without asking questions— no great 
matter, only he was confoundedly afraid of being 
locked up, even in mistake. He turned cold at the 
thought. He stamped bis feet on the sod- 



" What are you?— a sailor?" said an agitated 
voice. 

She had flitted out, a shadow herself, attracted 
by the reckless shadow waiting under the wail of 
her home. 

" Anything. Enough of a sailor to be worth 
my salt before the mast. Came home that way this 
time." 

" Where do you come from ? " she asked. 

" Right away from a jolly good spree," he said, 
[«5B] 



TO-MORROW 

" hy Uio London train — see? Ough ! I hate being 
shut up in a train. I don't mind a houBe so 
much." 

" Ah," slie said ; " that's lucky." 

" Because in a liouse you can at any time open 
the blamed door and walk away straight before 
you." 

" And never come back? " 

" Not for sixteen years at least," he laughed. 
" To a rabbit hutch, and get a confounded old 
shovel . . ." 

" A ship is not so very big," she taunted. 

" No, but the sea is great." 

She dropped her head, and as if her ears had 
been opened to the voices of the world, she heard, 
beyond the rampart of sea-wall, the swell of yester- 
day's gale breaking on the beach with monotonous 
and solemn vibrations, as if all the earth had been 
a tolling bell. 

" And then, why, a ship's a ship. You love her 
and leave her; and a voyage isn't a marriage." He 
quoted the sailor's saying lightly. 

" It is not a marriage," she whispered. 

" I never took a false name, and I've never yet 
[IWS6] 



r 



TO-MORROW 

told a lie to a woman. What lie? Why,tA<lie . 

Take me or leave me, I say : and if you take me, 
then it is . . ." He hummed a snatch very low, 
leaning against the wall. 

Oh, ho, ho Rio ! 
And fare thee well, 
My boanie young girl, 
We're bound lo Rio Grande. 

" Capstan song," he explained. Her teeth chat- 
tered, 

" You are cold," he said. *' Here's that affair 
of yours I picked up." She felt his hands about 
her, wrapping her closely. " Hold tJie ends to- 
gether in front," he commanded. 

" What did you come here for? " she asked, re- 
pressing a shudder. 

" Five quid," he answered, promptly, " We let 
our spree go on a little too long and got hard up," 

" You've been drinking? " she said. 

" Blind three days ; on purpose. I am not given 
that way— don't you think. There's nothing ami 
nobody that can get over me unless I like. I can 



TO-MORROW 

be as steady as a rock. My clium sees the paper 
this morning, and says he to mc : ' Go on, Harry : 
loving parent. That's five quid sure.' So we 
scraped all our pockets for the fare. Devil of a 
lark!" 

" You have a hard heart, I am afraid," she 
sighed. 

"What for? For running away? Why! he 
wanted to make a lawyer's clerk of me — just to 
please himself. Master in his own house ; and my 
poor mother egged Iiira on — for my good, I sup- 
pose. Well, then- — so long; and I went. No, I 
tell you : the day I cleared out, I was all black and 
blue from his great fondness for me. Ah ! he was 
always a bit of a character. Look at that shovel 
now. Off his chump? Not much. That's just 
exactly like my dad. He wants me here just to 
have somebody to order about. However, we two 
were hard up; and what's five quid to him — once 
in sixteen hard years? " 

" Oh, but I am sorry for you. Did you never 
want to come back home? " 

" Be a lawyer's clerk and rot here — in some such 

place as this?" he cried in contempt. "What! if 

[258] 



ro 



OT 



the old man set me up in a home to-day, I would 
kick it down about ray ears — or else die there be- 
fore the third day was out," 

" And where else is it that you hope to die? " 

" In the bush somewhere; in the sea; on a blamed 
mountain-top for choice. At home? Yes! the 
world's my home ; but I expect I'll die in a hospital 
some day. What of that? Any place is good 
enough, as long as I've lived ; and I've been every- 
thing you can think of almost but a tailor or a 
soldier. I've been a boundary rider; I've sheared 
sheep; and humped my swag; and harpooned a 
whale. I've rigged ships, and prospected for gold, 
and skinned dead bullocks, — and turned my back 
on more money than the old man would have 
scraped in his whole life. Ha, ha ! " 

He overwhelmed her. She pulled herself to- 
gether and managed to utter, " Time to rest 
now." 

He straightened himself up, away from the wall, 
and in a severe voice said, " Time to go." 

But he did not move. He leaned back again, 
and hummed thoughtfully a bar or two of an out- 
landish tune. 

[S59] 



ToRwm 

She felt as if she were about to cry. " That's 
another of your cruel §ongs," she said. 

" Learned it in Mexico-^in Sonora." He talked 
easily. " It is tlie song of the Gambucinos, You 
don't know? The song of restless men. Nothing 
could hold them in one place — not even a woman. 
You used to meet one of them now and again, in 
the old days, on the edge of the gold country, awa^ 
north there beyond the Rio Gila. I've seen it. A 
prospecting engineer in Mazatlan took me along 
with him to help look after the waggons. A 
sailor's a handy chap to have about you anyhow. 
It's alt a desert: cracks in the earth that you can't 
see the bottom of; and mountains— sheer rocks 
standing up high like walls and church spires, only 
a hundred times bigger. The valleys are full of 
boulders and black stones. There's not a blade of 
grass to see; and the aun seta more red over that 
country than I have seen it anywhere— blood-red 
and angry. It U fine," 

"You do not want to go back there again?" 
she stammered out. 

He laughed a little. " No. That's the blamed 

gold country. It gave me the shivers sometimes 

[260] 



TO-MORROW 

to look at it — and we were a big lot of men together, 
mind; but these Gambucinos wandered alone. 
They knew that country before anybody had ever 
heard of it. They had a sort of gift for prospect- 
ing, and the fever of it was on them too ; and they 
did not seem to want the gold very much. They 
would find some rich spot, and then turn their backs 
on it; pick up perhaps a little — enough for a 
spree — and then be off again, looking for more. 
They never stopped long where there were houses ; 
they had no wife, no chick, no home, never a chum. 
Vou couldn't be friends with a Gambucino; they 
were too restless — here to-day, and gone, God 
knows where, to-morrow. They told no one of 
their finds, and there has never been a Gambucino 
well off. It was not for the gold they cared ; it was 
the wandering about looking for it in the atony 
country that got into tliem and wouldn't let them 
rest : so that no woman yet bom could hold a Gam- 
bucino for more than a week. That's what the 
song says. It's all about a pretty girl that tried 
hard to keep hold of a Gambucino lover, so that he 
should bring lier lots of gold. No fear! Off he 
went, and she never saw him again." 

[S61] 



TO-MORROW 

" What became of her ? " she breathed out. 

" The song don't tell. Cried a bit, I dareeay. 
They were the fellows: kiss and go. But it's the 
looking for a thing — a something . . . Sometimes 
I think I am a sort of Gambucino myself." 

" No woman can hold you, then," she began in 
a brazen voice, which quavered suddenly before the 
end. 

" No longer than a week," he joked, playing 
upon her very heartstrings with the gay, tender 
note of his laugh ; " and yet I am fond of them 
all. Anything for a woman of the right sort. 
The scrapes they got me into, and the scrapes they 
got me out of! I love them at first sight. I've 
fallen in love with you already, Miss — Bessie's your 
name — eh ? " 

She backed away a little, and with a trembling 
laugh : 

" You haven't seen my face yet." 

He bent forward gallantly. " A little pale : it 
suits some. But you are a fine figure of a girl. Miss 
Bessie." 

She was all in a flutter. Nobody had ever said 
so much to her before. 

[26«] 



TO-MOBROW 

His tone changed. " I am getting middling 
hungry, though. Had no breakfast to-day. 
Couldn't you scare up aome bread from that tea 
for me, or » 

She was gone already. He had been on the point 
of asking her to let him come inside. No matter. 
Anywhere would do. Devil of a fix ! What would 
his chum think? 

" I didn't ask you as a beggar," he said, jest- 
ingly, taking a piece of bread-and-butter from the 
plate she held before him. "I asked as a friend. 
My dad is rich, you know." 

" He starves himself for your sake." 

" And I have starved for his whim," he said, tak- 
ing up another piece. 

" All he has in the world is for you," she 



" Yes, if I come here to sit on it like a dam' toad 
in a hole. Thank you; and what about the shovel, 
eh? He always had a queer way of showing his 
love." 

" I could bring him round in a week," she sug- 
gested, timidly. 

He was too hungry to answer her; and, holding 
[863] 



TO-MOHBOW 

the plat« submiHsively to his hand) she began to 
whisper up to him in a quick, panting voice. He 
listened, amazed, eating slower and slower, till at 
last his jaws stopped altogether. " That's his 
game, is it? " he said, in a rising tone of scathing 
contempt. An ungovernable movement of his arm 
sent the plate flying out of her fingers. He shot 
out a. violent curse. 

She shrank from him, putting her hand against 
the wall. 

" No ! " he raged. " He expects ! Expects m* 
— for his rotten money ! . . . . Who wants his 
homeP Mad- — not he! Don't you think. He 
wants his own way. He wanted to turn me into a 
miserable lawyer's clerk, and now he wants to make 
of me a blamed tame rabbit in a cage. Of me ! Of 
me ! " His subdued angry laugh frightened her 



" The whole world ain't a bit too big for me to 
spread my elbows in, I can tell you — what's your 
name — Bessie — let alone a dam' parlour in a hutch. 
Marry! He wants me to marry and settle! And 
as likely ss not he has looked out the girl too — 



TO-MORROW 

dash my soul! And do you know the Judy, may 
I oskP" 

She shook all over with DoisetesB dry sohs; but 
he was fuming and fretting too much to notice her 
distress. He bit his tliumb with rage at the mere 
idea. A window rattled up. 

" A grinning, information fellow," pronounced 
old Hagbcrd dogmatically, in measured tones. 
And the sound of his voice seemed to Bessie to make 
the night itself mad— to pour insanity and dis- 
aster on the earth. " Now I know what's wrong 
with the people here, my dear. Why, of course! 
With this mad chap going about. Don't you have 
anything to do with him, Bessie. Bessie, I say ! " 

They stood as if dumb. The old man fidgeted 
and mumbled to himself at the window. Suddenly 
he cried, piercingly : " Bessie — I see you. I'll tell 

She made a movement as if to run away, but 
stopped and raised her hands to her temples. 
Young Hagbcrd, shadowy and big, stirred no more 
than a man of bronze. Over their heads the crazy 
night whimpered and scolded in an old man's voice. 
[S66] 



TO-MORROW 

" Send him away, my dear. He's only a vaga- 
bond. What you wiint is a good home of jour own. 
That chap has no home — ^he's not like Harry. He 



n't be Hal 



Hal 



Do 



s coming t 

you iiear? One day more," he babbled more ex- 
citedly ; " never you fear — Harry shall marry 
you." 

His voice rose very ahrill and mad against the 
regular deep soughing of the swell coiling heavily 
about the outer face of the sea-wall. 

" He will have to. I shall make him, or if not " 
— he swore a great oath—" I'll cut him off with a 
shilling to-morrow, and leave everything to you. 
I shall. To you. Let him starve." 

The window rattled down. 

Harry drew a deep breath, and took one atep 
toward Bessie. " So it's you — the girl," he said, 
in a lowered voice. She had not moved, and she re- 
mained half turned away from him, pressing the 
palms of her hands. " My word ! " he continued, 
with an invisible half-smile on his lips. " I have a 
great mind to stop. - . ." 

Her elbows were trembling violently. 

" For a week," he finished w 



i. pause. 



[8 



TO-MORROW 

She clapped her hands to her face. 

He came up quite close, and took hold of her 
wrists gently. She felt his breath on her ear. 

*' It's a scrape I am in — this, and it is you that 
must sec me through." He was trying to uncover 
her face. She resisted. He let her go then, and 
stepping back a little, " Have you got any 
money? " he asked. " I must be off now." 

She nodded quickly her shamefaced head, and he 
waited, looking away from her, while, trembhng 
all over and bowing her neck, she tried to find the 
pocket of her dress. 

"Here it is!" she whispered. *' Oh, go away! 
go away for God's sake! If I had more — more — 
I would give it all to forget — to make you for- 
gel." 

He extended his hand. " No fear! I haven't 
forgotten a single one of you in the world. Some 
gave me more than money — but I am a beggar now 
— and you women always had to get me out of my 
scrapes." 

He swaggered up to the parlour window, and in 
the dim light filtering through the blind, looked at 
the coin lying in his palm. It was a half-sovereign. 

[267] 



He slipped it into his pocket. She stood a little on 
one side, with her head drooping, as if wounded; 
with her amis hanging passive by her side, as if 
dead. 

" You can't buy me in," he said, " and you can't 
buy yourself out," 

He set his hat firmly with a little tap, and next 
moment she felt herself lifted up in the powerful 
embrace of his arms. Her feet lost the ground; 
her head hung back ; he showered kisses on her face 
with a silent and over-mastering ardour, as if in 
haste to get at her very soul. He kissed her pale 
cheeks, her hard forehead, her heavy eyelids, her 
faded lips; and the measured blows and sighs of 
the rising tide accompanied the enfolding power 
of his arms, the overwhelming might of his caresses. 
It was as if the sea, breaking down the wall pro- 
tecting all the homes of the town, had sent a wave 
over her head. It passed on; she staggered back- 
wards, with her shoulders against the wall, ex- 
hausted, as if she had been stranded there after a 
storm and a shipwreck. 

She opened her eyes after awhile; and listening 
to the firm, leisurely footsteps going away with 
[268] 



TO-MORROW 

their conquest, began to gather her skirts, staring 
all the time before her. Suddenly she darted 
through the open gate into the dark and deserted 
street. 

" Stop ! " she shouted. " Don't go ! " 

And listening with an attentive poise of the head, 
she could not tell whether it was the beat of the 
swell or his fateful tread that seemed to fall cruelly 
upon her heart. Presently every sound grew 
fainter, as though she were slowly turning into 
stone. A fear of this awful silence came to her — 
worse than the fear of death. She called upon her 
ebbing strength for the final appeal : 

"Harry!" 

Not even the dying echo of a footstep. Noth- 
ing. The thundering of the surf, the voice of the 
restless sea itself, seemed stopped. There was not 
a sound^ — no whisper of life, as though she were 
alone and lost in that stony country of which she 
had heard, where madmen go looking for gold and 
spurn the find. 

Captain Hagberd, inside his dark house, had 

kept on the alert. A window ran up; and in the 

silence of the stony country a voice spoke above her 

[869] 



TO-MORROW 

head, tiigli up in the black air — the voice of mad- 
ness, liea and despair — the voice of inextinguish- 
able hope. " Is he gone jfet — that information 
fellow? Do you hear him about, my dear? " 

Slic burst into tears, " No ! no ! no ! I don't 
hear him any more," she sobbed. 

He began to chuckle up there triumphantly. 
" You frightened him away. Good girl. Now we 
shall be all right. Don't you be impatient, my dear. 
One day more." 

In the other house old Carvil, wallowing regally 
in his arm-chair, with a globe lamp burning by his 
side on the table, yelled for her, in a fiendish voice : 
" Bessie! Bessie! you Bessie! " 

She heard him at last, and, as if overcome by 
fate, began to totter silently back toward her stuffy 
little inferno of a cottage. It had no lofty portal, 
no terrific inscription of forfeited hopes — she did 
not understand wherein she had sinned. 

Captain Hagberd had gradually worked himself 
into a state of noisy happiness up there, 

" Go in ! Keep quiet ! " she turned upon him 
tearfully, from the doorstop below. 

He rebelled against her authority in his great 
[«70] 



TO-MORROW 

joy at having got rid at last of that " something 
wrong." It was as if all the hopeful madness of the 
world had broken out to bring terror upon her 
heart, with the voice of that old man shouting of 
his trust in an everlasting to-morrow. 



THE END 



[871] 



Ip a. Conan Bople 

Author of " The Advenbures of Sherlock Holme* ** 

THE ADVENTURES OF 
GERARD 



STORIES of the remarkable adventures of a 
Brigadier in Napoleon's army. In Etienne Ge- 
rard, Conan Doyle lias added to his already famous 
gallery of characters one worthy to stand beside 
the noUble Sherlock Holmes. Many and thrill- 
ing are Gerard's adventures, as related by himself, 
for he takes part in nearly every one of Napoleon's 
campaigns. In Venice he has an interesting 
romantic escapade which causes him the loss of 
an ear. With the utmost bravery and cunning 
he capture-i the Spanish city of Saragossa ; in 
Portugal lie saves the army ; in Russia he feeds 
the starving soldiers by supplies obtained at 
Minsk, after a wonderful ride. Everwhere else 
he is just as marvelous, and at Waterloo he is the 
center of the whole battle. 

For all his lumbering vanity he is a genial old 
soul and a remarkably vivid stoiy-teller. 

Illustrated by W. B. Wollen. 
11.50 



iEcClurc, pi^ilUpu & Co. 





■ ^^^^~1 


1 




Bp gitanltj? 3- 5^fpman 




Author of " A Gentleman of France " 

THE LONG NIGHT 

r 

Geneva in the early days of the 17th century; 
a ruffling young theologue new to the city; a 
beautiful and innocent girl, suspected of witch- 
craft ; a crafty scholar and metaphysician seeking 
to give over the city into the hands of the Savoy- 
ards ; a stem and powerful syndic whom the 
scholar beguiles to betray his office by promises 
of an elixir which shall save him from his fatal 
illness ; a brutal soldier of fortune ; these a're the 
elements of which Weyman has composed the 
most brilliant and thrilling of his tomances. 
Claude Mercier, the student, seeing the plot in 
which the girl he loves is involved, yet helpless 
to divulge it, finds at last his opjiortunity when 
the treacherous men of Savoy are admitted within 
Geneva's walls, and in n night of whirlwind fight- 
ing saves the city by his courage and address. 
For fire and spirit there are few chapters in 
modem literature such as those which picture the 
splendid defence of Geneva, by the staid, churchly. 
heroic burghers, fighting in their own blood under 
the divided leadership of the fat Syndic, Baudi- 
chon, and the bandy-legged sailor, Jehan Brosse, 
winning the battle against the armed and armored 
forces of the invaders. 

Illustrated by Solomon J. Solomon. 
Si. 50 


a^cCIure, pi^niipss & Co. 






i 



p 


r 


"■ 




Bp l^enrp gieton JHerriman 




Author of "The Sowers." etc. 

liARLASCH OF THE GUARD 

r 

XhE story is set in those desperate days when 
thf ebbing tide of Napoleon's fortunes swept 
Europe with desolation. Barlasch — " Fapa 
Barlttsch of the Guard, Italy, Egypt, the Dan- 
ube "—a veteran in the Little Corporars senice 
- — is the dominant figure of the story. Quar- 
tered on a distinguished family in the historic 
town of Dantzig, he gives his life to the romame 
of Desiit'e, the daughter of the family, and Louis 
d'Anagon, whose cousin she has mariied and 
pai-ted with at the church door. Louis's search 
with Barlasch for the missing Charles gives an 
unforgettable picture of the terrible retreat from 
Russia ; and as a companion pictm-e there is the 
heroic defence of Dantzig by Rapp and Iii.s little 
army of sick and starving. At the last Bar- 
lasch, learning of the death of Charles, plans 
and executes the escape of Desiree fi'om the 
beleaguered town to join Louis. 
Illustrated by the Kinneys. 

81.50 


iHcClurc, i&]^iU(pst & Co. 


h 


^ 


J 



38p l^nrj ilarlanti 



Antbor of " The Cudinal'i SnulF Bos " 

MY FRIEND PROSPEHO 

r 

A. NOVEL which will fascinate by the grace 
and chai-ni with which it is written, by the de- 
lightful characters that take part in it, and by 
the interest of the plot. The scene is laid in 
a magnificent Austrian castle in Noiih Italy, 
and that serves as a background for the work- 
ing out of a sparkling love-story between a 
heroine who is brilliant and beautiful and a 
hero who is quite her match in cleverness and 
wit. It is a book with all the daintiness and 
polish of Mr. Harland's former novels, and 
other virtues all its own. 

Frontispiece in colors by Louis Loeb. 



a^cClure, i&smtpsj & Co. 



F 


r - " 


M 


r 


B^ BaloiD (@ra))am $i)tUtp0 




Author of ■• Golden Fle«c«." 

THE MASTER ROGUE 

r 

A STUDY in the tyranny of wealth. James 
Galloway founds his fortune on a firaud. He 
ruins the man who has befriended him and steals 
away his business. Vast railroad oi>erations neitt 
claim his attention. He becomes a bird of prey 
in the financial world. One by one he forsakes 
his principles; he becomes a hypocrite, posing, 
even to himself. With the degeneration of his 
moral character come domestic troubles. His 
wife grows to despise him. One of his sons be- 
comes a spendthrift ; the other a forger. His 
daughter, Helen, alone retains any affection for 
him. His attempts to force his family into the 
most exclusive circles subject him and them to 
mortifying rebuffs, for all his millions cannot over- 
come the ill-repute of his name. At last, with his 
hundred millions won, his house the finest in 
America, his name a name to conjure with in the 
financial world, he realizes that the goal he has 
reached was not worth the race. Still he clings 
to his old ways, and dies in a fit of anger, haggling 
over his daughter's dowry. $1.50. 


SPtClure, l&ftaupfi « Co. 


b 




1 



3Sp (Storgt atit 




Author of ■■ Fables id Slang ' 

IN BABEL 



X HESE are short stories, brief little h&mnier- 
stroke stories, just long enough to bit tbe nail 
upon the head. Mr. Ade's " Babel " is Chicago, 
and the scenes of tbe stories are laid in familiar 
and unfamiliar quarters of that rushing Western 
metropolis. It is a book about the i-eal joyfi 
and sorrows of real people, written in pure 
English by the great master of American slang, 
whose quaint philosophy and humor have 
ranked bim among Anierica''s most cliaracter- 
iatic writei-s. 

The stories deal with the upper, tbe middle, 
and the under claK.ses, and show in both pa- 
thetic and humorou light the happenings in 
the fashionable circles upon the Lake front, as 
well as among the Irish and Italian emigrants 
in the squalid quarters of the city. 
$1.50 



fll^cClure, is^ilUpsi & Co. 




A. CAPITAL book of strenuous adventure on the 
sens about the Philippines, China, and Japan, It 
might almost be culled a chronicle of latter-day 
piracy, for the escapades in which the heroes are 
involved, thougli they are amply stirring, do not 
always justify themselves by tlieir lawfulness. 
The men are all soldiers of fortune, ready to take 
up with any scheme so long as it promises excite- 
ment and some possibility of gain. Wherefore, 
at various times, they find themselves smuggling 
opium, carrying a shipload of outlawed hemp, 
capturing a cargo of contraband rifles and ammu- 
nition, in conflict with marauding Malays, capt- 
ured by inland trilics, or in other situations quite 
as thrilling. The story of each adventure is told 
by one of those who took part in it, and through 
his eyes you see his shipmates and form your idea 
of their characters. Though you may not approve 
of the band, they are all so straightforward in 
their dishonesty that you can't help admiring 
them. The book is a real sea book, and the 
romance and atmosphere of the ocean are never 
lost for a moment. 

$1.50 

fll^cClure, pmiliv^ & Co. 



■P" " " ^ 


m 




38p 3ei. C. goung 




SALLY OF MISSOURI 

r 

A STORY of Missouri life, presenting in a 
vivid, warm, reali^^tic manner a primitive 
world, quite new to fiction readers. The novel 
is rith in poetry and romance. The strange 
tramp-boy, the dominant, tricky rich man of 
the town, the engaging Sally (who has the 
distinction of being a human being, as well 
as a heroine), the ne ver- to-be- foi^otten back- 
woods children— all these and others live in 
this love-story, and make it of unusual origin- 
ality and interest. 

H.50 


a^cClurt, pQillJpjei & Co* 


1 




i 



3Bp Bogtr ^ococfe 



Author of '■ Tales of WcHtern Life " 



FOLLOWING THE FRONTIER 



A DELIGHTTULLY written account of 
adventures on the outskirts of civilization. 
The writer has a keen sense of humor and 
lights up his many thrilling incidents with 
much fun. The central figure is a young 
Englishman who emigrates to the Northwest 
and is willing, in order to support himself, to 
write poetry gr prose, teach, preach, turn store- 
keeper or soldier. He is a most attractive 
personality. The wide field covered by the 
author in his adventures is indicated by these 
chapter headings : " The Trail of the Tro<>per,'' 
" The Trail of the Missionary," " The Trail of 
the Yokohama Pirates," "The Trail of the 
Prospector," « The Trail of the Outlaw," " The 
Trail of the Savage " — each one of which rep- 
resents one phase of the author's experiences. 

il.50 



i%tcClure, PQiUip0 & Co. 



33p (gelttt Burgtss an!) 5^ill 
Jrtoin 



Authors of "The Pitar 



THE REIGN OF QUEEN ISYL 



r 

Reign of Quel 



In "The Beign of Queen Isyl" the authors 
have hit upon a new scheme in fiction. The book 
is both a novel and a collection of short stories. 
The main story deals with a carnival of fluwers 
in a CaUfomia city. Just before the coronation 
the Queen of the Fiesta disappeai^, and her 
Maid of Honor is crowned in her stead — Queen 
Isyl. There are plots and counterplots — half- 
mockery, half-earnest — beneath which the reader 
is tantalized by glimpses of the genuine mystery 
surrounding the real queen's disappearance. 

Thus far the story differs from other novels 
only in the quaintly romantic atmosphere of mod- 
em chivalry. Its distinctive feature lies in the 
fact that in every chajtter one of the characters 
relates an anecdote. Fach anecdote is a short 
story of the liveliest and most amusing kind^ — 
complete in itself — -yet each bears a vital relation 
to the main romance and its characters. The 
short stories are as unusual and striking as the 
novel of which they form a part. 



ajtciurt, wmps & Co. 



X 




nuit 

mam 



Stanlord University Library 

Stanford) California 



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